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Maroons back has the ultimate in breakout games

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Chandler Carroll averaged more than 10 yards per carry against a team that came into the game ranked No. 21 in Division III.
Photo by David Malamut, d3photography.com

Chandler Carroll had no idea he was closing in on school history Saturday afternoon. He was too focused on the task at hand -- helping Chicago make a statement in its first season in the Southern Athletic Association.

The Maroons were squaring off against No. 20 Centre, the reigning SAA champion and owners of a 14-game regular-season win streak.

A school record wasn’t on his mind.

“I had no idea. I was just trying to help our team win another game,” Carroll said. “But late in the game, coach told me he was going to get me a couple of more carries, so I knew something was up.”

Carroll ended up setting the single-game rushing record, bulldozing his way to 311 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries. More importantly, Chicago, a new team on the block in the conference, took down the Colonels 49-30 to improve to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the SAA.

Carroll broke a record that has been in the record book for 30 years, beating it by 25 yards.

“It was awesome, but it’s even better getting the win. It puts us on the radar,” Carroll said. “I figured we would pass a lot more (Saturday), but once the game started, we ran the ball a lot. I knew I would have a chance to be a big threat.”

Until Saturday, Chicago used its air attack to get the job done, leaving Carroll with just 129 yards in the first two games.

But Carroll, a sophomore who was the rookie of the year in the University Athletic Association, never complained about his limited role within an offense designed to spread the ball around. 

“He’s very unselfish and his work ethic and passion are impressive,” Chicago head coach Chris Wilkerson said. “He’s one of the most talented players I have ever coached.”

Carroll came to Chicago destined for success.

In high school in Indiana, Carroll churned out more than 2,500 rushing yards and broke 14 school records. He was also a star on the wrestling mat, placing at state four times. Oh, and if that isn’t enough, he was the valedictorian of his class, cementing his status as a true student-athlete.

Perhaps the highlight of his career was being named a finalist for the high school Heisman. He was one of 100 athletes selected from a pool that was 49,000 applicants deep.

He spent a weekend in New York and met Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel. Being around two quarterbacks who are now in the NFL was a learning experience.

“I learned a lot from them, especially about what it takes to play at a high level. I made the most of that opportunity,” Carroll said. “It was an amazing and humbling experience.”

Even now, even in the wake of his success in less than two years into his college career, Carroll remains humble, working hard each day to improve while thriving in the classroom at a school that has one of the best academic reputations in the nation.

He spent a lot of time in the weight room in the offseason, and with a year of experience already under his belt, he feels more comfortable on the field.

His main focus, however, is on helping the Maroons continue their quest to earn an NCAA playoff berth for the first time. As a member of the SAA, the Maroons are eligible for the conference’s automatic bid.

“We’ve talked about our goals and getting to the playoffs is in the back of our minds,” Carroll said. “The next game is what matters right now. It’s the most important game.”

The mentality of Carroll and his teammates is a credit to Wilkerson’s approach to coaching.

“It was certainly an exciting moment to beat Centre, to see our hard work pay off, but every game is big,” Wilkerson said. “We’re focused on the process. We want to improve each week and be ready to play each week.”

Warriors win with Winn

Hendrix running back Dayton Winn was tough to stop Saturday, rushing for a school-record 226 yards in a 45-34 win over Millsaps in their Southern Athletic Association opener.

Winn’s effort was part of a big day for Hendrix, which broke a team record by churning out 328 rushing yards. Going over the 200-yard mark for the first time, Winn also scored four touchdowns.

The Warriors (2-1) have won two consecutive games and have scored 40 or more in each time out. Winn has been a big part of the success, rolling up 426 yards and six touchdowns for a Hendrix offense that averages close to 500 yards (470.3) per game.

Tigers’ defense stands tall

Trinity was at its best on defense Saturday against Pacific Lutheran, dominating the Lutes in a 23-13 road win.

The defensive stats are impressive. The Tigers forced five turnovers and held Pac Lutheran to zero rushing yards as they raised their record to 4-0 for the first time since 2011. Two of their wins have come against Northwest Conference opponents.

Trinity was tough to crack in the red zone, forcing three turnovers, including one at the 10-yard line with the Lutes already up 7-6. Luke Packard recovered a fumble on the play and finished with five tackles. He also forced a fumble on one of his three sacks.

Packard has 19 tackles while Julian Turner, who made nine tackles Saturday, leads the team (56). Their efforts have helped the Tigers hold opponents to 11.8 points per game this year.

Eight was enough for Tigers

Eight years after their last win against Louisiana College, East Texas Baptist is the winner in the Battle for the Border Claw once again.

The Tigers, trailing 24-20 at the end of three quarters, scored 24 points in the fourth to pull away for a 44-34 American Southwest Conference victory. It was their first win over the Wildcats since 2007 when they came away with a 27-23 road win.

East Texas Baptist cranked out 547 yards and went over the 40-point mark for the third consecutive game on a night when Tyler Bates caught two touchdown passes to push his nation’s-best total to 11. His 274 receiving yards were three shy of the school record.

Dominic Hagerty made his mark as well, returning a kick 92 yards for a touchdown. It’s the third longest return in program history and put the Tigers in front for good at 34-27.

East Texas Baptist (3-1)  is on a roll after a season-opening loss to McMurry, winning three consecutive games. They are 1-0 in the ASC, the first time that has happened since 2009. The Tigers need only one more win to match their total from last year.

Noteworthy

Berry pushed its win streak to three with its first road win in program history, a 14-3 victory over. Sewanee on Saturday. The Vikings (3-1, 2-0 SAA) won behind a defense that hasn’t given up a touchdown in 10 quarters.

Washington quarterback J.J. Tomlin threw for 365 yards in the Bears’ 41-13 win over Birmingham Southern Saturday, pushing his season total to a conference-best 1,065 yards. He ranks seventh all-time at the school (2,969 yards).

Texas Lutheran’s defense forced four turnovers and recorded 11 tackles for a loss in a 56-28 win over Southwestern Assemblies of God. Justus Parker led the way with 11 tackles. He ranks second on the team in tackles (24).

Contact Me

If you have a great story idea or notable accomplishments that deserve a mention in this column, feel free to reach out to me at brian.lester@d3sports.com. You can also follow on Twitter @BLester1993.

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Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Florida. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending 10 at The Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com and wrote Around the Great Lakes for D3football.com from 2012-14. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

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