North Central Back Home With a Record in Sight
The alternating home and away games continue down the stretch of the regular season for the North Central Cardinals, as the took the field at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium on an absolutely gorgeous October afternoon in Naperville looking to improve to 8-0 on the season as they took on North Park, against whom the Cardinals offense has exploded in recent years. Also on the line, a potential program record of four consecutive shutouts after holding Carroll, Millikin and WashU all scoreless.
After a long pass on the first play that unfortunately saw Jacob Paradee leave with an injury, sophomore quarterback Luke Lehnen scrambles for a touchdown to give the Cardinals an early lead, as he used a couple pump fakes to freeze the defense. On their next drive, Lehnen showed his elusiveness again with another scramble for a big gain, this one aided by a downfield block from senior running back Ethan Greenfield. Then, on his first carry in nearly a month after missing three games with an injury, Jordan Chisum charges through the Viking defense for a touchdown to double the lead and shows once again just how hard he is to bring down. Next drive, and it’s Lehnen hitting the gas again, once again using a pump fake to completely freeze a defender, and it was smooth sailing from there. Thirty-four yards on his second rushing TD of the day as he and the Cardinals were already running away at the end of the first quarter leading 21-0.
New Faces Step Up.
The Cardinals were depleted at receiver, requiring the likes of John Michael Scumaci to step into unusual roles like returning punts. Scumaci with a great return here to put the Cardinals offense right back in business. A couple plays later, Lehnen finds Rory Hills open in the end zone on a well-run route for the Cardinals first passing touchdown of the day and Hills first TD reception of his career.
Speaking of first career touchdowns, the Cardinals defense didn’t want to be left out of the scoring. Zack Orr with a pick-six on his team-leading fourth interception of the season, all in the last five games. The sophomore’s fantastic season just keeps getting better. When the Cardinals offense did get back on the field after a long break, Lehnen made it a hat trick of rushing touchdowns for himself. He rushed for 102 yards on just 5 carries, and used his feet to carry the Cardinals offense in this one. But he is still pretty good throwing the ball too, connecting on a 56-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to Jake Lynch for Lynch’s first career touchdown reception as well. Everyone called upon to step up doing so and then some for the Cardinals’ offense.
The second-team defense was once again tasked with maintaining a shutout, and senior Garrett Fidduccia makes a great grab here to help do just that, another takeaway for the Cardinals’ secondary. After a Tanner Rains field goal, sophomore running back Joe Sacco would add the final touchdown of the day for North Central, his fourth score of the season. North Park made a final late push to get on the scoreboard, but it’s another takeaway and and another game-sealing interception, this one by Jahmar Daniel. It’s his first career pick to close out a day of firsts. And speaking of which, the Cardinals do set a new record with a fourth straight shutout. 59-0 the final score as a season of dominance continues.