On a night that felt more like mid-November than early-October, the Carthage College football team (2-2, 1-0 College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin) knocked off CCIW-opponent Illinois Wesleyan University (2-2, 0-1 CCIW), 20-10, at Tucci Stadium in Bloomington, Ill. The game was the conference-opener for both teams. With the win, the Red Men snapped a 13-game CCIW losing streak. Carthage's last win in the league was a 31-6 decision over North Park University on Sept. 29, 2012. "We have high expectations for this program, and we have a long way to go, "said Carthage coach Mike Yeager, "but a league win, on the road and at night is a good win anytime."
With temperatures in the mid 40s, Carthage capitalized on three first-half Illinois Wesleyan turnovers, converting two of those into touchdowns After a scoreless first period, a Zac Pallissard fumble recovery set up a 10-play, 64-yard scoring drive that ended with Jonnie Evans Jr. scoring on a fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line at 8:37 second period. The Red Men led, 7-0..
A Shawntrel Garner interception set up Carthage's second touchdown, a three-yard pass from Nick Anzelmo to Jamahl Wright at 4:30, and the Red Men led, 14-0. The scoring drive covered eight plays and 3:04. The Titans got on the board with just 2.4 seconds remaining in the half on a 28-yard field goal by Michael Kelley. Carthage was slowed in the first half by two turnovers of its own, along with seven penalties totaling 63 yards.
Illinois Wesleyan quarterback Tyrell Bolden found some rhythm early in the third period, but a long drive ended with Bolden fumbling at the Carthage 21-yard line, the fourth Titan turnover of the game. Carthage took a commanding, 17-point lead, 20-3 , at 9:28 third period on a two-yard carry by Evans on fourth-and-goal. The 11-play, 95-yard scoring drive took up 5:25, with the key play a 40-yard run by Evans.
The Titans cut the lead to 20-10 at 7:28 fourth quarter, thanks to a 39-yard touchdown pass from Bolden to Artie Checcin that capped a seven-play, 66-yard scoring drive. Illinois Wesleyan's next drive started at 5:09 but was stopped on downs at the Carthage 34-yard line. The Titans got the ball back one more time at 2:00 but turned the ball over on downs again.
Carthage rolled up 351 total yards, 100 yards rushing and 250 yards passing, while Illinois Wesleyan had 371 total yards, 170 on the ground and 201 in the air. The Titans turned the ball over four times, with the Red Men defense limiting the Titans to four-of-15 third down conversions and zero-of-three on fourth down. Carthage quarterback Nick Anzelmo (So., Schaumburg, Ill.) completed 22-of-32 passes for 237 yards. James Cobbs III (Fr., Urbana, Ill.) caught five passes for 64 yards and Jamahl Wright (Jr., Brookfield, Wis./Hartland-Arrowhead) six for 59 yards. Jonnie Evans Jr., (So., Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara) ran for 97 yards on 16 carries. Illinois Wesleyan quarterback Tyrell Bolden completed 18-of-37 passes for 201 yards and ran for 137 yards on 29 carries.
"Our guys played their tails off tonight and played for 60 minutes," said Yeager, "We've been preaching that for over a year now, and it was good to see. We struggled on offense at the start and turned the ball over, but we played great, defensively. The defense not only kept us in the game, early, but it allowed us to take an early lead. While Illinois Wesleyan moved the ball better in the second half, we did a great job at keeping them out of the red zone. We played much better up front, and that allowed us to get our ground game going a little. Our receivers played well, with Brock Kap making a couple of real key catches, and quarterback Nick Anzelmo got some great reads."
Carthage entertains CCIW-opponent Elmhurst College (2-2, 1-0 CCIW) on Saturday, Oct. 11 in the Red Men's homecoming game at Art Keller Field in Kenosha, Wis., beginning at 1 p.m.