Decatur, Ill. - The Wheaton football team wrapped up its regular season schedule on Saturday afternoon on a cold and blustery afternoon against Millikin in Decatur. The Thunder, ranked 18th in this week's D3football.com poll, took the opening possession for a touchdown and never looked back in a convincing 46-0 victory over the Big Blue. With the win, the Thunder ends the regular season with an overall record of 9-1 and 6-1 in CCIW play. Millikin finishes the season 4-6 overall and 1-6 in CCIW play.
Wheaton is a strong candidate for an at-large berth for the 2010 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs, which begin next Saturday. Selections and pairings for the playoffs will be announced tomorrow between 2-2:30 PM (CST) on ESPNews and will be posted on www.ncaa.com by 3 PM (CST) tomorrow afternoon.
With a cold wind gusting across the field, Wheaton kept the ball on the ground with the game's opening possession and quickly drove the ball to Millikin's 18-yard line where junior quarterback Garrett Meador found Rocky Gingg all alone up the sideline for Gingg's first receiving touchdown of the season. Meador finished 4-for-9 with 74 passing yards. Jordan Roberts came on in the second half and finished 2-for-2 with 23 yards. Gingg finished with the one catch to go along with 25 rushing yards on nine carries.
Scott Roche provided the next points for the Thunder by battling the wind to connect on a 27-yard field goal attempt to make it 10-0. Roche finished the day 1-of-3 on field goal attempts bringing his season field goal total to 16.
Following a touchdown run by Peter Jarrett, Millikin's Kody Smith returned the ensuing kickoff into Wheaton territory. Millikin then used a roughing the quarterback penalty and a 20-yard completion from sophomore quarterback Matt Holmes to senior tight end Will Roth to move the ball down to the Wheaton five-yard line. After a first down run by Dion Wilson to move the ball down to the two, Wheaton's goal- line defense held; and safety Bryan McMullen intercepted Holmes' fourth down heave in the end zone for a touchback.
Wheaton's defense spent the game bottling up Millikin's outstanding running back Dion Wilson. Wilson entered action averaging more than 163 yards a game but was held to just 50 yards on 18 carries. Wilson added another 30 receiving yards on six catches.
Wheaton's ground game consumed much of the second half as the Thunder ate up clock and yardage. Three different Thunder running backs found the end zone as Joey Skogen, Jarrett and Brady Wright each broke the goal line in the second half. Skogen finished the game with a career-high 173 yards rushing on 24 carries and one touchdown. Jarrett also set a career-best with 103 yards on 15 carries and two touchdown runs. Brady Wright ended up with 85 yards on seven carries and a touchdown. Wheaton finished the game with 453 yards rushing behind a very impressive showing by the offensive line.
Millikin spent the second half trying to keep up through the air, with Holmes finishing the day 4-for-18 with 50 yards and two interceptions.
Wheaton was able to record their third safety of the season in the fourth quarter when freshman linebacker Brett Anderson recorded his first career blocked kick, as he blocked the punt of Chris Hunt out of the back of the Millikin end zone.
Wheaton's second possession was setup following a forced fumble by Cory Hart that was recovered by fellow senior Charley Mitchell. It was Hart's second forced fumble of the season and Mitchell's first fumble recovery.
Wheaton finished with seven rushers totaling twenty or more yards as Teddy Watkins had one carry for 23 yards, Tyler Langs had one carry for 20 yards and Garrett Meador finished with 27 yards on nine carries.