Duhawks, Mierkiewicz earn first win
Sat, Sep. 10, 2011 - [Football]

Loras 48

Rockford 17


Before the game, the Loras College community recognized two veterans for their service.


During the game, the Loras College community witnessed 48 points and the first win of the Paul Mierkiewicz era.


After the game, the Loras College community welcomed five new members into the Hall of Fame.


It was a memorable day in the Rock Bowl to say the least.

It all started well on the field, with an opening drive that included a heavy dose of running back Devin Kass and ended with a 34-yard touchdown run by the junior from Solon, Iowa.


Stephan Birt promptly stopped the first Regents attempt on offense with an interception and 18-yard return. The ensuing drive lasted all of one play, with quarterback Vaughn Gesing finding Gavin Kaiser for a 32-yard touchdown, making it 14-0.


Loras remained in control, building a 28-3 lead after touchdowns by Kaiser on another quick drive after a Rockford turnover, and, a Brendan Oates 44-yard touchdown catch.


A touchdown pass to the fullback Nick Nowdomski and an Anthony Beres field goal made it 28-10 at the half.


After kicking off to start the second half, the Duhawks quickly reclaimed possession thanks to the first of two Dave Pirkle interceptions. Both included long returns, this one setup the Duhawks at the two yard line. In one of the oddest one-play drives you could conjure up in your head, running back Devin Kass fumbled the ball at the goal line where offensive lineman Michael Donnelly promptly belly-flopped his way into his first career touchdown. With duties on the extra point keeping him on the field, Donnelly was forced to delay his sideline celebration with his teammates.


The third quarter ended with the Duhawks on top, 34-10.


Isaiah Whack made it 34-17 with his 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, capping a sustained 15-play, 58 yard drive for the Regents.


Loras' final points came from on the ground. The first was a Devin Kass run of nine yard. The second was a pile-up turned breakout for Javan Aimable – an 82-yard scamper up the left sidelines to finish the scoring at 48-17.


Statistically, three of quarterback Vaughn Gesing's nine completions went for touchdowns. Devin Kass finished with 165 yards and two touchdowns. Aimable finished with 124 yards on the ground – including that career long 82-yard effort. Six different Duhawks caught passes from Gesing, led by Kaiser's three receptions for 51 yards and two touchdowns.


Defensively, Dave Pirkle shined with two interceptions and added 65 yards worth of returns after picking off Rockford starter Jake Gorsuch. Pirkle also added a forced fumble, a breakup and a tackle for a loss.


Zach Myers led the Duhawks with 11 tackles. Ryan Steckel and Kyle Kirchoff each added fumble recoveries.


The offense finished with 446 yards and held the Regents to 269.


"I thought we played much better as a team today," head coach Paul Mierkiewicz said afterwards.


"There's always work to be done, but as far as what we did here today, I think we're on the right path. We did some good things. We've got to continue to get better, and I think we will."


Mierkiewicz - an alumnus of Loras College and former assistant coach with the team - was admittedly pleased to earn his first victory as head coach of the Duhawks.


"Bottom line, this IS special," Mierkiewicz said.


"(This team) worked hard, this coaching staff worked hard, and to be leading this group, on this campus, on this field, on a day like today…it is special."



At halftime, five former Duhawks – John Cody, Jeff Carter, Kendall Griffin, Mike Runde, and Frank Quigley were recognized as the 2011 Hall of Fame class. In a ceremony and dinner banquet later in the evening on campus, they were formally inducted into the Hall of Fame.


You can read more about the inductees HERE.


Prior to the game, the Loras College community honored the service and sacrifices of US Army PFC Jonathan Adams and Navy Lieutenant Paul Pelletier as part of the campus' remembrance of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.