#21-Wheaton top #22-Illinois Wesleyan, 29-19
Wheaton, Ill. – The Wheaton football team was a 29-19 victor against Illinois Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon in a battle of nationally ranked conference rivals at McCully Stadium. Wheaton (4-0/1-0 CCIW) entered today's game ranked 21st in this week's D3football.com Top-25 poll and Illinois Wesleyan (3-1/0-1 CCIW) was ranked 22nd in the same poll. Wheaton will travel to Elmhurst College on Saturday for a 1 PM kickoff with the Bluejays.
Wheaton accumulated 437 yards of total offense, rushing for 202 yards, with 235 passing yards. Illinois Wesleyan had 317 yards of offense, with 157 passing yards and 160 yards on the ground. Possession was critical of Wheaton's victory today as the Thunder ran a total of 88 plays, while the Titans had 51 plays. Wheaton held an advantage of 37:50 to 22:10 in time of possession, including a 20:18-9:42 edge in the second half. Head coach Mike Swider noted afterwards, "This is a big win. I thought we ran the ball exceedingly well today."
Wheaton put the first points on the scoreboard with a five-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Roberts to Justin Zeller with 6:25 left in the first quarter to give the hosts a 6-0 lead. Zeller's touchdown capped a length 13-play drive that lasted 5:17. Wheaton extended its lead to 12-0 with 14:32 left in the second quarter when Rocky Gingg scored on a one-yard touchdown run, capping a 65-yard drive that lasted 11 plays. The Thunder held a 19-0 lead at halftime as result of a six-yard touchdown pass from Garrett Meador to Freddy Ellis with 7:45 remaining in the game.
Thunder kicker Scott Roche extended Wheaton's lead to 29-7 with a 29-yard field with 12:43 remaining in the game. Two plays after Roche's field goal, IWU scored on a 45-yard touchdown run by Eli Williams to cut the hosts' lead to 29-13. With 6:27 left in the fourth quarter, The Titans scored on a 58-yard touchdown pass to trim the Thunder advantage to 29-19. The ensuing Wheaton drive after the Titans' touchdown pass stalled and IWU regained the ball with 3:28 left in the game. The Wheaton defense stood strong on Titan drive with a sack and on fourth down Jordan Langs intercepted a pass to give the Thunder the ball with 2:35 left in the game at the IWU 24-yard line. Wheaton was able to get a key first down on fourth-and-one as the Thunder would go on to run out the clock and earn the victory.
Roberts completed 12 of his 19 passes for 151 yards, with two touchdown tosses and he ran for 37 yards. Meador was 8-for-18, with 84 yards and one touchdown pass. Sophomore running back Peter Jarrett ran the ball 20 times for 89 yards and Gingg had 57 yards on 16 carries with the second-quarter touchdown run. Junior Teddy Watkins caught six passes for 63 yards and Justin Zeller had six receptions for 59 yards, with the one touchdown catch.
The Wheaton defense forced five Titan turnovers on the day, including four interceptions. Jordan Langs had two of those interceptions and he also recovered a fumble. He also registered two tackles for lost yardage (-8 yards). Senior Cory Hart and junior Brian McMullen each made a team-high eight total tackles for the Thunder, as Hart registered 1-1/2 tackles for lost yardage of (-12 yards). Tyler Langs made five total tackles, with two tackles for lost yardage and an interception. Mike Dozeman made four tackles with an interception and linebacker Richard Jacobson made two tackles for lost yardage.
Williams led the Titan rushing attack with 106 yards and one touchdown. Brien Rooney was 11-for-25 passing with 157 yards through the air and another 43 yards on the ground. Ryan Gresko made a team-high 12 total tackles, with two tackles for lost yardage, to lead the Titan defense. Dan Rogers added 11 tackles for the guests.