North Central College football fans packed the Lantern and Bar Louie in downtown Naperville this afternoon to cheer on the Cardinals as they took on number one ranked Mount Union in the semifinals of the NCAA Division III National Championship.
“How much fun is this,” said Ron Goodin, a former Cardinal football player and member of the Class of 1968. “Everyone’s cheering for he game, it’s like a tailgate party.”
Just playing in today’s game made history for the Cardinals. It was the first time the school has made an appearance in the national semifinals, something alum John Geyer couldn’t imagine when he played Cardinal football in the 60’s.
“My senior year we were 6-3 and it went downhill from there and now it’s coming back up,” said Geyer, also a member of the Class of 1968 “It’s so exciting to come here and watch a team play, they’re doing things that I didn’t think could be done in football.”
The game was also too big to keep a familiar face, former North Central College President, Hal Wilde, away from campus.
“I have kind of been in a cone of silence since retirement, but I couldn’t go to Ohio and I did want to see this,” explained Wilde. “I’m with people I know and love and I’m here to cheer on the Cardinals.”
The first quarter started with a huge return by the NCC, and then went back and forth throughout the entire first half, leaving the Cardinals down only by four at half time.
During the second half, fans had a lot to cheer about, including many Cardinal touchdowns and a five-point lead with just two minutes remaining. But, Mount Union answered with a touchdown of their own and NCC’s final drive came up short, making the final score 41-40.
Despite the tough loss, Cardinal athletes and fans can celebrate the team’s 13-1 record: the best in school history.
“This is the only time we’ve gotten past the second round. So to be in the semis is unbelievable,” said Goodin.
“It was fun. It was exciting. I’m so proud of them. I’m proud to say I’m a graduate of North Central College,” said Geyer.
WANT MORE LOCAL NEWS?
Get daily news headlines delivered to your inbox!Sign Up Today!