The Knox College football team made eight trips into the redzone on offense against Lawrence last weekend, and all eight times, the Prairie Fire found the endzone to ensure a 63-42 throttling of the Vikings at Stisser Field.
Six of the trips ended in rushing touchdowns by senior Derek Mortensen which earned him multiple spots in the Knox record book. The performance not only gave him the most rushing touchdowns in a game by a Knox player, but also gave him enough to eclipse the records for touchdowns in a season (15) and in a career (28).
But while the performance during the game will be remembered by fans for years to come, it was what happened in pregame that might stick with the Knox players.
As a part of the Senior Day festivities, the parents meet with their sons and escort them to midfield. This year, as each player walked by, Mortensen was there to greet them. Mortensen, who would have normally been celebrating Senior Day as well, injured his knee during his sophomore campaign and has chosen to return for a fifth season as a redshirt senior.
“[Mortensen] asked coach Eisele if he could [meet each of the seniors] before the game,” senior wide receiver Gabe Ayers said. “Coach let him do it, and it was really cool.”
While Mortensen may steal the headlines this year, he has been consistent to credit his offensive line for the hard work they put in to help him set these records.
According to senior guard Brian Paul, the feelings have been mutual.
“Derek’s dominance these past couple weeks has been absolutely astounding. He’s really a great athlete, and everyone on the offensive line is happy to be blocking for him,” Paul said.
Paul has been a key cog in the offensive line during his career, which was honored along with those of 17 other Prairie Fire players. For Paul, the third member of his family to play four years at Knox, the emotions were hard to hold back.
“I’ll admit that I was crying. I had my entire family, my mother and all five brothers down in the bowl. It was just an emotional day,” he said.
With emotions running high, Knox received contributions in all forms from the senior class in the victory.
Senior lineback Mike Hendrick cemented his legacy by getting 10 tackles and two sacks in addition to forcing a fumble and picking off a Lawrence pass.
Senior Lloyd Scott also had a standout day, recording two and a half of Knox’s astounding eight sacks on the day.
On the offensive side senior running back Mike Youkhana had his best day as a member of the Prairie Fire, netting 33 yards on the ground while scoring his first career touchdown.
The 63 points the Prairie Fire put on the board was a modern-era record for the program and Paul did not mince words when describing what it means for next week’s matchup with rival Monmouth.
“We will run the Monmouth defense into the ground. [They] will wake up Sunday morning and think that they were hit by a train the day before. [We are] prepared for a loud and emotional game.” Paul said.