North Central Football in the Wind on the Road
The North Central football team hit the road for what they hope will be the final time until the national championship, traveling south to Bloomington for their final away game of the regular season to take on the Illinois Wesleyan Titans on an incredibly windy afternoon. A win would clinch a second consecutive outright College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin championship and put the Cardinals one win away from another perfect regular season.
Remarkable Run Game and Dominant Defense
The Cardinals’ offense got rolling in their usual fashion: with senior running back Ethan Greenfield. On just the third play of the game, he unleashes this 59-yard run and is brought down just short of the end zone. Not to be denied though, Greenfield does get the TD to put the Cardinals on the board early on a day where the running game would once again dominate.
On the next drive it was sophomore Luke Lehnen’s turn for a big run, but he also falls just short of the end zone as he steps out of bounds at the four-yard-line while reaching for the pylon. But, of course, it’s Greenfield again who’s happy to punch the ball in for another short TD run, his second of the opening quarter to make it 14-0 North Central after one.
The Titans would struggle to hang on to the football, let alone score, in this one. Dan Lester knocks the ball loose from Seth Albin, and a dogpile ensues. But after discussion, the officials rule that Dan Gilroy had the football at the bottom of the heap and it’s a turnover for the North Central defense.
Lehnen did throw occasionally in this game, 11 times in total, and here he finds DeAngelo Hardy in the end zone in the opening moments of the second quarter to extend the lead to 21.
A crazy play on the next drive: a miscommunication for the Titans offense sees a snap bounce all the way to the end zone. The Titans are unable to fall on the ball and it’s pounced upon by senior defensive end Tyler Rich for the touchdown. Two scores in 8 seconds for the Cardinals.
After an Illinois Wesleyan field goal ended the Cardinals’ shutout streak, the offense quickly responded with more points. This time a great fake to Terrence Hill by Lehnen frees the QB for another long touchdown run. He ran for 94 yards and this score on just five carries.
Speaking of things that look familiar, Lehnen rolling out to his left and finding DeAngelo Hardy in the end zone. A Mahomes-like sidearm sling by Lehnen finding Hardy wide open for his conference-best 11th receiving score of the season. And how about another long touchdown run, this one for Greenfield! His third of the day and 15th of the season. 164 yards on 18 carries on the afternoon for the star senior.
The Cardinals defense continued to be as good in the red zone as the offense. Tyler Rich knocks the ball away from Titans’ quarterback Jake Lemenager and it’s recovered by Dan Lester. How about another long North Central rushing touchdown? Joe Sacco takes his turn with a 58 yard run to put the Cardinals over 60 points on the day and even further out of sight. Jordan Chisum would finish up the offensive fireworks with a more modest, but still impressive, 21-yard rushing touchdown of his own complete with a nice stiff-arm. The 68 points are the Cardinals third-most this season.
Finally, how about yet another red zone turnover? Jake Brock says thank you very much, and while they didn’t maintain the shutout streak it is a fifth straight game without a touchdown allowed by the defense, who were last scored upon way back on October 1st by Wheaton. The Cardinals are 9-0 and CCIW champs again with a 68-3 victory.