Time of Poss.
The North Central College football team extended its run of scoring proficiency to a sixth straight week at Frank M. Lindsay Field on Saturday, defeating Millikin University, 59-32, to close out the 2019 regular season.
The Cardinals improved to 9-1 this season (8-1 in College Conference of Illinois & WIsconsin play) after racing to a large early lead with a series of quick-strike scores in the opening period.
DeAngelo Hardy got the visitors on the board just 14 seconds after play began, returning the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. It is North Central's first kickoff return to the end zone this season and the first time a Cardinal has returned a game's opening kickoff for a score since Joe Kubik's 90-yard return against North Park University on Sept. 23, 1989.
A 28-yard field goal by Magnus Meyer pushed North Central's lead to 10-0 before the Big Blue (5-5, 4-5 CCIW) got on the board on Cal Pohrte's two-yard TD pass to Colton Lockwood. Hardy returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards before Ethan Greenfield burst through the line for a 51-yard touchdown run on the next play from scrimmage, increasing the guests' lead to 17-7. Ben Wong ended the next Millikin drive by forcing a fumble, giving North Central possession at the Big Blue 27-yard line, and Rutter connected with Hardy for a scoring pass on the next play.
Pohrte capped off a 12-play, 48-yard possession with a five-yard TD pass to Jordan Smith, cutting the lead to 24-14. Rutter completed a trio of passes to Andrew Kamienski on the Cardinals' next trip down the field, the last of which went for a 23-yard score, the last of the first half, and the visitors headed into the break with a 31-14 edge.
The Big Blue took the first possession of the second half to the end zone, scoring on a three-yard run by Richard Cosey. North Central responded with three straight touchdowns to effectively end the game, getting runs of 50 and 10 yards from Greenfield and a 28-yard scoring strike from Rutter to Kamienski to extend its lead to 52-20.
Millikin tacked on a pair of scores before Zach Garrett closed the contest by crossing the goal line from one yard out with just 19 seconds on the clock.
Rutter finished the day 17 of 24 passing for 293 yards. He connected with Kamienski seven times for 182 yards, making Kamienski the Cardinals' all-time leader in single-season receptions (85). Kamienski's two touchdown receptions give him 20 for the season, making him the first North Central player to score 20 touchdowns of any kind in a single campaign. Greenfield gained 199 yards on just 14 rushing attempts, and his three rushing TDs leave him just one short of a tie for the Cardinals' single-season record.