October 8, 2011

Carthage Comes From Behind to Defeat Millikin, 40-23, on Oct. 8

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The Carthage College football team (4-1, 1-1 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin) defeated CCIW-opponent Millikin University (3-2, 1-1 CCIW), 40-23, on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Frank M. Lindsay Field in Decatur, Ill., as the Red Men out-scored the Big Blue, 40-7, after the midway-point of the second period.

Millikin took a 2-0 lead at 11:28 first period on a safety after a Carthage snap went over the head of punter Chris Schulz.  The Big Blue went up, 9-0, on a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Holmes to tight end Chris Ntor-Ue.  Millikin made it a 16-0 contest at 8:59 second quarter on a 28-yard TD pass from Holmes to wide receiver Erik Tobey.  The Red Men came up with an eight-play, 72-yard scoring drive that ended with Reggie Miller scoring from the six-yard line at 6:12 second period.  The point-after failed, and Carthage trailed, 16-6.  A nine-play, 61-yard scoring drive brought the Red Men to within three points, 16-13, just as the first half ended. 

Quarterback T.J. Trepanier scored from the five-yard line with 36 seconds remaining.  Trepanier fumbled at his own 18-yard line on Carthage's first drive of the second half.  Millikin took over, and two plays later, Holmes scored from the one-yard line to make it 23-13 at 14:33.  The Red Men came right back with a 97-yard scoring drive that ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Trepanier to Mike Oratowski, cutting the Big Blue lead to 23-20 at 6:26. 

Carthage took its first lead of the game, 26-23, with 42 seconds left in the third period with a 10-play, 57-yard scoring drive that ended with Trepanier finding tailback Reggie Miller in the end  zone for a seven-yard TD pass.  The Red Men fumbled the snap on the extra-point attempt.  Carthage scored again on a eight-play, 64-yard drive that was capped by a nine-yard rushing touchdown by E.J. Edinburgh, giving the Red Men a 10-point lead, 33-23, at 8:32 fourth quarter.  Carthage tacked on a final score at 2:44 fourth quarter when Mike Koeneman caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Trepanier, upping the Red Men's lead to 40-23.

Carthage rolled up 366 total offensive yards, 146 yards rushing and 220 yards passing, while Millikin totaled 357 yards, 181 on the ground and 176 in the air.  The Red Men had a 33:13-26:47 edge in time-of-possession.  Quarterback T.J. Trepanier (Jr., Winthrop Harbor, Ill./Zion-Benton Township) completed 10-of-15 passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns.  Wide receiver Mike Koeneman (Sr., Barrington, Ill./Palatine-Fremd) caught five passes for 125 yards.  Red Men running back Mike Oratowski (Sr., Wheaton, Ill./Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard South) rushed for 77 yards on 18 carries. 

Millikin quarterback Matt Holmes completed 11-of-17 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns, while running for 61 yards on 22 carries.  Outside linebacker Josh Langensiepen (Sr., Sacramento, Calif./Sheldon) collected 12 tackles (6 solo, 6 assisted) and forced a pair of fumbles.  Carthage quarterback Pete Djurickovic, who had started the last three games, is out for the season with broken ankle suffered in the Oct. 1 North Central (Ill.) game.

With the victory, head coach Tim Rucks (91-71-1, 17 years at Carthage/100-104-4, 22 years overall) won his 100th career game.  "We survived, and we survived on the road," said Rucks.  "This was a huge game, a hinge kind of game.  We didn't do everything right, that's for sure, but our character showed through.  This win was a little more satisfying than most of them.  We're getting healthier, and that helped us a lot today, especially getting Mike Oratowski back at full strength.  T.J. Trepanier did a great job of stepping in for an injured Pete Djurickovic.  Confidence-wise, we needed the 40 points.  I've been waiting for this kind of game from our offensive unit, and I knew it was going to happen.  We've been getting better, and offensive coordinator Terry Peebles has done a great job with them and instilling confidence in them.  Had we lost today, it would have been tough to bounce back, but now, we're still right in the hunt.  This was an exciting win, and I'm happy with how things are going at this point."

Carthage travels to Rock Island, Ill., on Saturday, Oct. 15 to play Augustana College (Ill.) in a 6 p.m. game at Ericson Field.

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