Wheaton, Ill. - The Thunder football team opened its season on Saturday night with a 54-34 victory against Albion College at McCully Stadium. Wheaton, ranked eighth in Division III by D3football.com, is now 1-0 on the year. Albion is now 0-2 on the year.
Tonight's victory marked the 27th consecutive non-conference win in the regular season for the Thunder, a streak that dates back to the 2002 season. Wheaton will return to action next Saturday night at 7 PM when the Thunder travels to UW-Platteville.
Wheaton racked up 570 yards of offense on the night, with 355 passing yards and 215 rushing yards. Albion tallied 289 yards in the game with 216 yards through the air and 73 on the ground.
Senior quarterback Garrett Meador completed 23 of his 30 passing attempts for 300 yards, with six touchdown tosses for the Thunder. Meador also ran for 66 yards, as he racked up 366 yards of total offense in the game. Junior tailback Peter Jarrett led the Thunder ground game with 78 yards on 22 carries, with one touchdown. Senior Teddy Watkins caught nine passes for 136 yards, with one touchdown catch. He also returned six kickoffs for 155 yards, including a long return of 46 yards – as he totaled 322 all-purpose yards in the game.
Senior linebacker Jordan Chapman tallied nine total tackles to lead the Thunder defense. Brian McMullen, Micah Markley and Brandon Dykstra each recorded five total tackles. Oskar Cadena and Jordan Langs each recorded an interception in the game.
Clinton Orr led Albion with 64 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown, along with six kickoff returns for 170 yards, including a 93-yard return for a touchdown. Briton quarterback Spencer Krauss completed 15 of his 32 passing attempts for 216 yards, with two touchdowns. John Lesinski led the Albion defense with 13 tackles, including a tackle for lost yardage (-1 yards).
A 37-yard field goal by the Britons gave the guests and early 3-0 lead, but Wheaton fullback Brannen Dorman caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Meador with 7:23 left in the first quarter to give the Thunder a 7-3 lead.
The two teams went back-and-forth in the second quarter as each team took the lead twice in the quarter. Thunder kicker Scott Roche booted 27-yard and 46-yard field goals in the quarter to help the Thunder cause. Jarrett scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the quarter and Meador threw a 35-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the first half to help the Thunder to a 26-21 lead at halftime.
Wheaton extended its lead in the third quarter thanks to a 16-yard touchdown pass from Meador to freshman Mark Hiben and a 28-yard pass to senior Kolby Kemp. Orr scored a touchdown for Albion late in the third quarter as Wheaton led 47-28 at the end of the third quarter.
Meador threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Watkins early in the fourth quarter and freshman fullback Jesse Geary caught a five-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to extend Wheaton's lead to 54-28. Time expired in the game when Albion's J.C. Cruse caught a four-yard touchdown pass to account for the final score of 54-34.