North Central College football earns 11 All-Americans, but falls 38-37 to Cortland in Stagg Bowl 50

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Before the kickoff of Stagg Bowl 50, North Central College football set a new record with 11 All-American selections on the team, headlined by 2023 Gagliardi Trophy winner Luke Lehnen.

Cardinals earn double digit All Americans

Lehnen was named a 1st team All-American alongside center Jarod Thornton, tackle Jeske Maples and wide receiver DeAngelo Hardy, who is now the career leader in touchdown catches in North Central history.

Running back Joe Sacco, guard Sam Pryor and defensive backs Julian Bell and Antoine Walker were 2nd team All-American selections. Linebacker BJ Adamchik and defensive end Martin Egbo were named to the 3rd team, while wide receiver Joey Lombardi was selected to the 4th team as a kick returner.

North Central falls in a heartbreaking Stagg Bowl

Looking for the program’s third Division III National Championships in four years, North Central faced 13-1 Cortland in the 50th edition of the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem, Virginia.

North Central had the ball inside the Cortland ten yard line on the first two possessions of the game for the offense, but turned it over on downs on both occasions. The Red Dragons returned the favor early in the second quarter. In the final minute of the first half, NCC running back Charles Coleman scored the first touchdown of the game from six yards out on a touch pass from Luke Lehnen to put the Cardinals in front 7-0. The Red Dragons would drive down the field and kick a field goal to make it a 7-3 North Central lead at halftime.

The second half was an offensive fireworks show, as the two teams each scored over 30 points in the final 30 minutes of the game. After the Cardinals and Red Dragons traded scores, Cortland took a 38-31 lead with 1:35 remaining on a touchdown pass from Zac Boyes to Cole Burgess.

North Central responded in just two plays, as Lehnen found DeAngelo Hardy for a 60-yard touchdown pass. The Cardinal QB finished the game with 179 yards passing and 115 more on the ground and four total touchdowns. However, the Cardinals elected to go for two and the attempt from Lehnen was stopped short of the goal line. The Red Dragons recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock to win the first Stagg Bowl in program history 38-37.

Zac Boyes was named MVP of the game for Cortland with 572 total yards and five touchdown passes.

North Central ended the season with a 14-1 record as the team saw its NCAA best 29 game winning streak snapped. Luke Lehnen set a new NCAA record for pass efficiency with a final total of 263.18, shattering the previous record of 230.4.