On an otherwise perfect October evening for football, the Carthage College football team (4-3, 1-3 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin) fell to CCIW-opponent and No. 16 Wheaton College (Ill., 6-1, 3-1 CCIW), 31-7, on Saturday night, Oct. 22 at Art Keller Field in Kenosha, Wis.
Wheaton struck first with a 23-yard field goal by Scott Roche at 11:36 first period. Thunder quarterback Garrett Meador hooked up with wide receiver Mark Hiben on a 25-yard touchdown pass at 5:30 first period, capping an 11-play, 67-yard scoring drive, and Wheaton led, 10-0. Late in the period, the Thunder's Micah Markley had a long punt return for a touchdown called back on a Thunder off-side penalty. The play would have given Wheaton a 17-0 lead. The two teams traded possessions most of the second quarter, with Carthage finally getting on the scoreboard with 30 seconds remaining in the half on a two-yard touchdown carry by quarterback T.J. Trepanier. Trepanier's touchdowns ended an 11-play, 67-yard drive, and the score was 10-7. The Thunder took over with 23 seconds to go, and on the second play of the drive, Meador connected with wide receiver Teddy Watkins for a 39-yard touchdown, giving Wheaton a 17-7 margin at halftime.
The Thunder tacked on two third-quarter touchdowns for the final, 31-7 margin. J.D. East scored on a 45-yard fumble recovery of a T.J. Trepanier carry at 7:59. Meador connected with Mark Hiben again at 2:40 for a 47-yard TD pass to close out the scoring. Wheaton (Ill.) rolled up 393 total offensive yards, 56 rushing and 337 passing, while Carthage was limited to just 146 total yards, 89 on the ground and 57 in the air. Thunder quarterback Garrett Meador completed 22-of-31 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Mark Hiben caught eight passes for 161 yards and two TDs, while Teddy Watkins caught six passes for 105 yards. The Red Men's T.J. Trepanier (Jr., Winthrop Harbor, Ill./Zion-Benton Township) completed six-of-10 passes for just 18 yards and ran for 36 yards on eight carries before leaving the game in third period with a concussion and a thigh injury. Carthage middle linebacker Brad Fortney (Sr., Antioch, Ill.) collected a game-high 12 tackles (10 solo, 2 assisted).
"It was a long night," admitted Carthage coach Tim Rucks, "and it was not good. We got it taken to us by a good football team, and I wasn't surprised by that. Wheaton is very well coached and very well disciplined, and they go about the game the right way. They're very dynamic on offense, and they take advantage of what you throw out there defensively. The Wheaton score with eight seconds to play in the first half was obviously a momentum-buster. We could have gone into the locker room down only three points, so that play took a lot of air out of us. We also had a bunch of injuries. While I don't want to use that as an excuse, we had some offensive linemen playing tonight who haven't played in a varsity game. We're struggling a little bit, and we have to play a North Park team next week that's getting better."
Carthage travels to Chicago on Saturday, Oct. 29 to play conference-opponent North Park University (3-4, 0-4 CCIW) in a 1 p.m. game at the Holmgren Athletic Complex.