Foresters Fall to Chicago Finish 8-2

Photo by Sydney Gardner
Photo by Sydney Gardner

Senior cornerback Jenri Salonga recorded his first career interception and made seven tackles in his final career game but the Lake Forest College football team was defeated 33-13 by the University of Chicago at home on Saturday.

Salonga chased down an overthrown ball deep in Forester territory in the third quarter. It was the only turnover of the day for the Forester defense, which was led by freshman linebacker Michael Salazar's 10 tackles. Senior safety R.J. Pompey was next on the team with nine stops and junior Jordan McInerney added eight. Two of McInerney's tackles were sacks and Salazar also turned in a pair of tackles for loss in the contest.

Both of the home team's touchdowns in the game were scored by senior tailback Joey Valdivia, who finished with 91 yards on 25 carries. In addition to setting one single-season school record with 1,795 rushing yards and matching his mark from last year with 30 total touchdowns, Valdivia will graduate as the Foresters' all-time leader with 4,156 rushing yards, 6.7 yards per attempt, 64 rushing touchdowns, 69 scores overall, and 414 points.

Valdivia's first score came from two yards out and capped off a 9-play, 65-yard drive to open the game and senior kicker Charles Courtney made his 37th extra point this year, which trails only his 2016 total of 45 in team annals. Courtney's career total of 83 extra points ranks third. Chicago tied the game when the Maroons recovered a blocked punt in the end zone and took the lead on a 30-yard field goal with 4:24 to play in the first quarter. The next score was a passing touchdown by the visitors with just 27 seconds remaining in the half.

Chicago scored another touchdown on the opening possession of the second half and extended the lead to 31-7 on a score with 8:46 left in the contest. A Valdivia 1-yard touchdown run just two minutes later gave the home team a chance but the two-point conversion attempt was intercepted and returned to the end zone for the final points of the contest.

Lake Forest junior quarterback Jagan Cleary passed for just 65 yards in the game but finished the season with the second-best completion percentage (.656) and efficiency rating (151.2) in team history. He is also just 150 passing yards away from becoming the Foresters' career leader in that category.

Junior wide receiver Chris Edomwande had a team-high four catches for 67 yards on Saturday and his 56 receptions on the season rank 10th in program history.

The Foresters finished with an 8-2 record for the fourth time in the last six seasons and just one win shy of the school record of nine victories set in 2002. The team broke the program record with 450.8 total yards per game and its 37.0 points and 232.2 passing yards per contest rank second and fifth in school history, respectively.

Chicago completed its season at 6-4.

In addition to Salonga, Pompey, and Valdivia, the team is also expected to lose 16 other seniors to graduation in May.