/seasons/2010/contrib/20101106tn4ba4

Cardinals Clobber Wheaton, Clinch Playoff Bid

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

WHEATON, Ill. - Dominating from wire to wire in what was expected to be a titanic battle, the North Central College football team retained the Little Brass Bell for the third straight year in a 28-6 victory over Wheaton College at McCully Stadium.

The fifth-ranked Cardinals (9-0, 6-0 College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin) clinched at least a share of their fifth consecutive CCIW championship and have secured the CCIW's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships. North Central's three-year winning streak in the season's only trophy game is the program's longest since winning six straight from 1977-82.

Also resulting from the team's victory was a record for head coach John Thorne, who now owns the school's all-time record for coaching victories. In his ninth season, Thorne owns a record of 75-21, which puts him ahead of the 74 victories compiled by the late Gordon Fisher from 1926-42.

The Cardinals were able to take the steam out of their opponents and the Wheaton crowd by constructing an extended scoring drive on the first possession of the game. Nick Kukuc took an option pitch from Jordan Tassio and gained 37 yards on the first play from scrimmage, kickstarting a 10-play, 87-yard drive that ended whenSpencer Stanek lofted a nine-yard touchdown pass to the deep left corner of the end zone and into the hands of Andy Stuursma with 9:06 on the clock.

The North Central defense forced a trio of incomplete passes and got the ball back on a punt 33 seconds later. The Cardinals then embarked on a 12-play, 68-yard scoring series which culminated in Tassio firing a pass down the middle to Kyle Fiedorowicz for a 19-yard touchdown. With 2:37 left in the first period, the visitors owned a 14-0 advantage.

12th-ranked Wheaton (8-1, 5-1 CCIW) got on the board on the following possession, converting a pair of early third downs and advancing to the Cardinals' 22 before kicker Scott Roche converted a 39-yard field goal attempt with 12:01 remaining in the second period.

After turning the ball over on downs on its next drive, North Central got an extra scoring opportunity when Josh McLeod picked off a pass from Thunder quarterback Garrett Meador and gave the Cardinals possession at the Wheaton 44-yard line. Stanek eluded the Wheaton pass rush and completed a seven-yard pass to Tassio before Kukuc covered the final 37 yards on a pair of runs, the second of which was a 20-yard touchdown run that extended the Cardinals' lead to 21-3, which stood as the halftime score.

The Cardinals stuffed a fake field goal on Wheaton's first second-half drive, which was the only scoring opportunity by either team in the third period. The Thunder put together a 13-play, 65-yard drive that started late in the third quarter and finished with a 33-yard field goal by Roche with 13:25 to play in the fourth period, narrowing the gap to 21-6.

North Central's final scoring drive started at its own 39-yard line. The Thunder turned up their defensive pressure and threw Tassio for a 10-yard loss on the first play of the series, but Stanek eluded the rush and found Stuursma for a 32-yard completion on second down. On third down-and-11 from the Wheaton 13, Stanek again threw to Stuursma on a fade route, this time to the deep right corner of the end zone, for the wideout's second TD of the game and a 28-6 advantage with 4:05 to play. The 11-play, 61-yard drive ate up 5:22 of the clock.

The Cardinals outgained Wheaton, 304-196, and owned a 36:02-26:58 advantage in time of possession. Kukuc gained 91 yards on 13 rushing attempts, while Tassio picked up 64 yards on 21 carries. Stanek completed 10 of 17 passes for 110 yards, while Stuursma established new career highs with seven receptions for 89 yards. 

Matt Wenger led the charge on defense with 13 tackles, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup, while Joe Schneiderbauer finished with nine total stops and McLeod wound up with two interceptions.

The Cardinals will attempt to complete an unbeaten run through the regular season and win the CCIW title outright on Saturday, hosting North Park University (2-7, 0-6 CCIW) at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m., with Senior Day festivities to be conducted prior to the game.

Nov. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Husson 23, at Springfield 21
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Berry 34, Huntingdon 20
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Delaware Valley 35, Western New England 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Brockport 66, Plymouth State 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 35, at Wittenberg 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount Union 21, Washington and Lee 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wesley 45, RPI 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Washington and Jefferson 31, Johns Hopkins 28
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Trine 63, Monmouth 24
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Chapman 6
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Case Western Reserve 28, at Illinois Wesleyan 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Oshkosh 63, Lakeland 0
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at St. Thomas 47, Eureka 8
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Final - OT
at Wartburg 35, Franklin 34
Video Preview Box Score Live stats Photos
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 17, St. John's 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Linfield 27, Hardin-Simmons 13
Box Score Photos
Nov. 25: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Wesley at Brockport
12:00 PM
Case Western Reserve at Mount Union
Video Live stats Audio Tickets
12:00 PM
Frostburg State at Washington and Jefferson
Video Live stats Audio
12:00 PM
Husson at Delaware Valley
Live stats
1:00 PM
Berry at St. Thomas
Video Live stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at UW-Oshkosh
Video Live stats Audio
1:00 PM
Linfield at Mary Hardin-Baylor
1:00 PM
Trine at Wartburg
Nov. 17: All times Eastern
Final
Merchant Marine 35, at Buffalo State 20
@ Newark, Del.
Video Box Score Photos
Nov. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Muhlenberg 32, at Carnegie Mellon 6
@ Newark, Del.
Video Box Score
Final
at Franklin and Marshall 21, Widener 7
Video Box Score
Final
Susquehanna 28, at Albright 9
Video Box Score
Final
at Berry 34, Huntingdon 20
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Brockport 66, Plymouth State 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount Union 21, Washington and Lee 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Trine 63, Monmouth 24
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wesley 45, RPI 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Washington and Jefferson 31, Johns Hopkins 28
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 35, at Wittenberg 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Delaware Valley 35, Western New England 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Husson 23, at Springfield 21
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Framingham State 48, Curry 14
Video Box Score
Final
Cortland 35, at Union 28
Box Score Recap
Final
Case Western Reserve 28, at Illinois Wesleyan 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Wartburg 35, Franklin 34
Video Preview Box Score Live stats Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Chapman 6
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Oshkosh 63, Lakeland 0
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 17, St. John's 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Thomas 47, Eureka 8
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Final
at Linfield 27, Hardin-Simmons 13
Box Score Photos
Final
at Ithaca 27, Salisbury 17
@ Newark, Del.
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at WPI 17, SUNY-Maritime 3
Box Score Recap
Nov. 19: All times Eastern
Final
at Alfred 29, Stevenson 16
@ University of Delaware
Video Box Score Recap