NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The Cardinals of North Central College proved why they're ranked fifth in the country Saturday afternoon by defeating the Captains of Christopher Newport, 43-13, in the first game of the season for both schools. The victory came in the first game at newly-named TowneBank Stadium on the Christopher Newport campus.

"We knew what to expect from North Central, and they really played well today," Head Coach Art Link said following the start to his third season at the helm. "They've got a lot of weapons and didn't make many mistakes. We knew coming in we would have to play pretty much error-free football, and we didn't do that."

North Central, located outside of Chicago in Naperville, IL., was led by senior quarterback Broc Rutter, a pre-season All-America selection. Rutter threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers and ran for a score as well. He completed 27 of 36 pass attempts for 369 yards, three scores, and no interceptions. Rutter posted 30 touchdown throws a year ago with only three interceptions while leading the Cardinals to a 10-2 final record and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 

Both squads scored on their first possessions of the season and five minutes into the opening quarter, the game was tied at 7-7. NCC went on to out-score the Captains the rest of the the way, 36-6, allowing just two field goals from senior kicker Dylan Curran from 48 and 41 yards.

Christopher Newport's opening score came on just the second play from scrimmage of the season when senior quarterback Jack Anderson connected with junior wide receiver Garrison Mayo, who raced 78 yards to the end zone. The hookup was the fifth-longest scoring play in Christopher Newport history, and the fifth score of Mayo's career.

"I was happy with some things we did today, and we had some good moments...but obviously we've got a lot of work to do," Link continued. "We've got to get our running game going and limit our mistakes." The Captains rushed for just ten yards on 22 attempts.

Christopher Newport's defense did manage to keep the Captains in the game late in the first half by stopping the Cardinals on their final three possessions of the second quarter...holding the score at 27-10 at the intermission.

North Central emerged from the locker room and grabbed control of the game again early in the third quarter when Rutter lofted his third TD throw of the day down the middle to tight end Tyler Egan. A North Central field goal in the final minute of the stanza resulted in a 37-10 margin after three quarters.

Curran blasted his second field goal of the contest early in the fourth quarter from 41 yards out, and is now 11 for 11 on field goal attempts in his collegiate career.

Rutter's eight-yard scoring run midway through the fourth quarter concluded the scoring, accounting for the 43-13 final verdict. The Cardinals finished the day with 508 totals yards to just 212 for the Captains on the sunny and warm afternoon to open the new season. It was the first meeting ever of the two schools.

Christopher Newport is now 7-12 all-time in season-opening games, and the defeat snapped a string of four straight victories to open the last four campaigns for the Captains. An opening-day crowd of 3,678 watched the Captains open their 19th season of football.