Wheaton, Ill. - The Wheaton Thunder football team earned a 27-17 win at home on Saturday afternoon against Millikin University (3-5/0-5 CCIW). The Thunder improves to 6-2 on the year, with a 4-1 CCIW record. Wheaton will travel to ninth-ranked North Central in Naperville for the annual battle for the Little Brass Bell with the CCIW-leading Cardinals.
Wheaton gained 450 yards of offense on the Big Blue, with 243 rushing yards and 207 passing yards. Millikin recorded 292 yards of offense, rushing for 134 yards and passing for 158 yards.
Junior running back Charlie Velling led the Thunder offense with 130 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown run. Justin Swider carried the ball 12 times for 76 yards. Thunder quarterback Jordan Roberts completed 17 of his 29 passing attempts for 139 yards, with one touchdown pass. Fellow quarterback Garrett Meador was 5-for-6 passing for 48 yards with a TD pass.
Linebacker Brett Anderson made nine total tackles to lead the Thunder defense. Defensive backs Matt McReynolds and Garrett Cook each made eight total tackles, as Cook made an interception late in the game and McReynolds broke up four passes. Defensive tackle Brandon Dykstra made seven total tackles, including three for lost yardage (-12 yards). Linebacker Pat Dansdill recorded five stops with 1-1/2 tackles for lost yardage.
Millikin quarterback Matt Holmes led the Big Blue with 158 passing yards, with 16 completions on 35 attempts, with one touchdown pass. Holmes also ran for 45 yards, with one touchdown run. Justin Brooks carried the ball 12 times for 61 yards. Defensive back Jacob Alvis led the Millikin defense with nine total tackles.
Millikin reached the scoreboard first when Big Blue kicker Austin Brettschneider booted a 28-yard field to give the guests a 3-0 lead with 8:26 remaining in the first quarter. Wheaton took the lead when Roberts threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Morgan Cook with 14:18 remaining in the second quarter to five the hosts a 7-0 edge. Cook's touchdown catch culminated a lengthy 13-play drive of 8- yards that was highlighted two plays before the touchdown on a 27-yard run by Velling to get Wheaton into the red zone. The Wheaton defense forced the Millikin offense to a three-and-out on the next drive. The Wheaton offense then responded with a nine-play drive of 55 yards that culminated with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Meador to tight end Ben Leong that extended Wheaton's lead to 14-3 with 8:25 left in the first half. Millikin responded with a nine-yard touchdown pass by Holmes to cut Wheaton's lead to 14-10 with 3:32 left in the opening half.
Wheaton scored on the opening drive of the second half when Velling reached the end zone on a two-yard run to extend the Thunder lead to 21-10 with 9:44 remaining in the third quarter. The touchdown was setup by a methodical drive that saw Roberts go for 7-for-7 passing, including a 27-yard strike to sophomore Mark Hiben. Millikin countered with a nine-yard touchdown run by Holmes to trim the hosts' lead to 21-17 with 33-seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Thunder kicker Sam Cote gave Wheaton a 24-17 lead when he booted a 36-yard field goal with 12:31 remaining in the first fourth quarter. Cote's field goal concluded a 10-play drive of 48 yards that was sparked by 39 rushing yards on five carries by Swider. Cote kicked his second field goal of the afternoon with 2:41 remaining in the game when he converted a 28-yard boot to give Wheaton a crucial 10-point lead at 27-17. Garrett Cook intercepted a Millikin pass on the ensuing Big Blue drive and returned the interception 44 yards to the Millikin 21-yard line to secure the win for the Thunder.