The Millikin football team stayed in the battle for first place in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin with a 56-35 win over Carroll University on October 21 at Frank M. Lindsay Field in Decatur, Ill. Millikin is now 6-1 overall and 4-1 in CCIW games. Carroll goes to 1-6, 1-4.
Millikin got off to the fast start it was looking for scoring 21 first quarter points. The Pioneers kept game close outscoring Millikin 14-7 in the second quarter.
Millikin opened the scoring on a one yard run from freshman Jazontae Howard.
Carroll answered with a 37-yard pass from Colton Bahling to Brandon Ehrke.
The Big Blue then scored twice on big plays with Nicco Stepina connecting with Jordan Smith on a 62-yard pass play and Stepina scoring on a 43-yard run. It was 21-7 Millikin at the end of the first quarter.
Carroll answered in the second quarter on a six-yard pass from Bahling to Jarrett Fintel.
Millikin countered with a five yard run from Stepina.
The Pioneers scored with 12 seconds left in the half on a three yard run by Bahling to make it a 28-21 Millikin advantage at halftime.
Stepina and Smith would connect two more times in the third quarter on six and one yard pass plays.
Stepina connected with Tyrice Hines in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 49-35 and then freshman Israel Smith's 49 yard interception return sealed the victory.
Stepina ended the day 22-32 for 280 yards and four touchdowns. He had 37 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Howard was a force on the ground for Millikin rushing 20 times for 168 yards. Smith had eight catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns.
Bahling had 329 yards passing for Carroll and three touchdowns. Ehrke had five catches for 106 yards and two scores.
Matt Brown lead the Millikin defense with nine tackles. Nikia Averitte and Daniel Jackson each had eight. Quintaz Wright had six tackles and two forced fumbles. Isaiah Blumenshine had four tackles including two tackles for a loss.
Millikin will travel to Carthage College on Oct. 28.