North Central Football Returns
North Central Football is back! The Cardinals quest to advance to a third consecutive Stagg Bowl, hopefully with a different outcome this time, began with a trip to Crawfordsville, Indiana and Wabash College for the teams’ first meeting since a dominant North Central playoff victory in 2019.
Brad Spencer took charge as head coach of the Cardinals for the first time, looking to start both the season and his coaching career 1-0.
Statement First Quarter
The Cardinals first drive looked very familiar and was finished off by a pass from sophomore quarterback Luke Lehnen to junior wide receiver DeAngelo Hardy, who dances past defenders and into the end zone.
Wabash looked to pull some trickery on their first possession, but Tyler Rich and the Cardinals defense weren’t fooled.
Ethan Greenfield set a North Central record with 305 rushing yards in the 2019 win over Wabash, and he found familiar success early with big runs like this one. Lehnen then airs it out for junior wide-out Joey Lombardi, one of a number of new faces on the roster after transferring from Illinois State. That big play sets up a short touchdown run for Greenfield, his first of the season to give the Cardinals a 14-0 advantage.
Lehnen gashed the Little Giants for another giant gain through the air on the Cardinals next drive, this one to Hardy…who then got to finish things off himself with a rushing touchdown to go with his earlier TD catch and extend the North Central lead to 21-0 still in the first quarter.
The Cardinals defense pitched a shutout in the opening quarter, helped by great effort like this from Northern Illinois transfer Antwain Walker. The offense then marched right back down the field again with another short Greenfield touchdown run to top off the drive, 28-0 Cardinals early in the second.
Wabash Responds, but Cardinals Go On to Dominate
Wabash’s offense did eventually find some success, first by going back into the bag of tricks for a double pass that eventually finds Donovan Snyder… and then on a pass from Liam Thompson through a crowd of Cardinals to Penn Stoller. The Little Giants went for two both times and failed to leave the score at 28-12.
But that would be all the Cardinals defense allowed, Dan Gilroy records his first sack of the season here by knocking the ball away from Thompson. From there, the Cardinals offense took center stage for the rest of the game. Another deep pass down the center of the field from Lehnen to Hardy plus the flag for pass interference. That moved the Cardinals into the red zone where once again Ethan Greenfield punched it in, his ninth career game with at least three rushing touchdowns.
DeAngelo Hardy, meanwhile, apparently took that as a challenge because here he is catching his third total touchdown of the day to put the Cardinals up by 30.
In garbage time, Jordan Chisum got his first rushing touchdown of the year, before Danny Nuccio intercepted a Thompson pass and ran it back deep into Wabash territory. The ensuing short drive would end with another short touchdown run, this one for Darius Byrd.
The Cardinals and Brad Spencer are 1-0, an emphatic non-conference, road victory by a big margin over the Little Giants: 56-12.