North Central Week 6 Preview vs. Wheaton

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

Complete Game Notes (PDF)

Oct. 14:
 North Central College Cardinals (5-0, 3-0 CCIW) at Wheaton College Thunder (4-2, 2-2 CCIW)

Kickoff: 7 p.m., McCully Stadium
Radio: 89.1-FM WONC
Live Stats:
Game Updates via Twitter: @NCC_Athletics
Series History: Wheaton leads, 51-42-3

Setting the Scene: The Cardinals put their undefeated record and the Little Brass Bell on the line this week, making the short trip to McCully Stadium for an always-difficult matchup with the Thunder.

Series History: This is the 97th football meeting between the two institutions. Wheaton owns a 51-42-3 advantage in the all-time series, which is North Central's most extensive football rivalry.

The teams played twice last season. North Central won possession of the Little Brass Bell, the traveling trophy between the two teams, with a 35-25 victory on Oct. 15. The Cardinals owned a 24-3 advantage before Wheaton rallied to get within a single touchdown. Liam Crotty's 25-yard field goal with 2:01 to play wound up sealing the victory.

A rare postseason rematch occurred on Nov. 26 in the second round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship. The Thunder scored 17 unanswered points after halftime and prevailed, 31-14.

The teams have played for the Little Brass Bell annually since 1946, with Wheaton owning a 47-20 edge in those contests.

National Rankings: North Central is ranked No. 4 nationally this week by and the American Football Coaches Association. 

Scouting the Thunder: Wheaton suffered a second straight loss on Saturday, dropping a 35-31 decision at Millikin despite owning a 21-7 advantage at halftime.

The Big Blue scored three touchdowns in the final 12:54, though Wheaton did score on a two-yard touchdown pass from Curtis McWilliams to Phillip Nichols with 1:58 remaining to take a 31-28 lead.

Millikin drove 83 yards on 10 plays and scored the winning touchdown on a two-yard run by quarterback Nicco Stepina with 31 seconds on the clock.

The Thunder enter this week's game as the CCIW leaders in scoring offense (38.8 points per game), rushing offense 211.7 yards per game) and quarterback sacks (27).

Tailback Sola Olateju leads Wheaton's ground game with 616 yards and four touchdowns while Spencer Peterson, primarily taking direct snaps out of the wildcat formation, has run for 305 yards and four TDs of his own. McWilliams is completing 62.4 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and six interceptions.

Defensive ends Chase Greenlee and Austin Hoover pace the Thunder's pass rush with eight and six quarterback sacks, respectively.

This Week for the Cardinals: North Central posted its first shutout victory in four years on Saturday, dominating throughout a 33-0 victory over North Park.

The Cardinals allowed only 92 yards of total offense, breaking the previous single-game school record of 97 yards allowed against Benedictine in 2006.

Austin Breunig scored two touchdowns and gained 170 all-purpose yards, gaining 105 yards on 20 rushing attempts and catching four passes for 65 yards. Broc Rutter completed 16 of 23 passes for 231 yards, hitting Andrew Kamienski six times for 110 yards and another touchdown.

North Central recorded seven quarterback sacks in the game, three of which were recorded by freshman defensive end Talha AyhanTommy Sora and Matt Sutherland shared the team lead in tackles with Ayhan, as each recorded six.
CCIW Player of the Week: Sutherland was named the CCIW Special Teams Player of the Week, also blocking a punt which resulted in a safety. North Central has received one of the CCIW's Player of the Week Awards following each game this season.

Millikin's Nicco Stepina and Illinois Wesleyan's Jordan Hassan were selected as the CCIW Players of the Week on offense and defense, respectively.
Stepina was 26-of-48 for 271 yards and two touchdown passes in Millikin's win over Wheaton. He also finished with 15 carries for 69 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Hassan totaled 13 tackles (12 solo), 3.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks in a 28-10 win at Augustana.

This Week in the CCIW: Elmhurst travels to Carthage this week, while Carroll visits Illinois Wesleyan and Millikin plays at Augustana. North Park is idle this week.

CCIW Statistical Rankings: North Central is currently leading the CCIW in first downs (115), average time of possession (32:57), red-zone offense (93.1%), net punting average (37.5 yards per punt), third-down conversion percentage (51.4%), fewest quarterback sacks allowed (8) and punt return average (17.7 yards per return).

Breunig is leading the CCIW in all-purpose yards (157.2 per game), while Muoghalu ranks first in total touchdowns (9) and Crotty leads in points scored by kicking per game (9.2). 

North Central Career Rankings:  Rutter ranks fourth in North Central history in career touchdown passes (47), passing yards (4,575) and pass completions (326). 

Breunig ranks fourth all-time in all-purpose yards (3,430) and rushing yards (2,512) and fifth in rushing touchdowns (25), and Crotty sits fifth in extra-point kicks made (78) and field goals made (17).

Pat Cravens ranks fourth in school history in punt return yards (621), 13th in interceptions (8) and 15th in pass breakups (15). Justin Stuursma and Sora rank seventh (222) and 11th (192) in total tackles, respectively. 

???????Stuursma also  currently ranks 11th tackles for loss (30.5), while DJ Warkenthien sits 13th (26.5), and Billy Douds is 10th in quarterback sacks (13.5).

'Red Zone' Returns in 2017: Once again, fans of North Central College football can get an insider's look at the Cardinals' football program, as 'The Red Zone' highlight show returns for its 10th season on Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.

The show airs each Thursday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., Friday at 12:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday at 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at midnight. It will feature interviews with coaches and players, highlights of the previous week's game, and a look ahead to the upcoming opponent.

Each show is viewable online at and is archived at as well as at