October 27, 2012

No. 9 North Central Blanks No. 20 Illinois Wesleyan for Homecoming Win

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

Treating its Homecoming crowd to its most prosperous all-around performance of the season thus far, the North Central College football team throttled the Illinois Wesleyan University Titans, 52-0, on Saturday at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium to post its seventh staright victory and remain unbeaten in College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) play.

The ninth-ranked Cardinals (7-1, 5-0 CCIW) posted their first shutout of the season and their second-highest single-game scoring total of the campaign. The win was also North Central's second straight shutout of the Titans (6-2, 3-2); the Cardinals posted a 24-0 win at Illinois Wesleyan last season. North Central has now won 21 straight CCIW games and the last 20 by 20 points or more.

"We've been waiting for this week, as well as next week's game against Wheaton, all year because we knew they were going to be really great teams," said the Cardinals' head coach, John Thorne. "We just had to keep going through the process to get to them and hope we stayed healthy. You could really tell this was a championship-type football game and it's time to play our best football. 

"We started out lightning-fast, and hopefully that's the way we're ready to play the rest of the year. Offense, defense, and special teams, there were not a lot of mistakes."

North Central scored on each of its first six first-half possessions, needing just two plays to open the scoring on a 60-yard touchdown run by Nick Kukuc. After forcing a Titan punt, the Cardinals took over again near midfield and doubled their lead five plays later. Spencer Stanek completed an 18-yard pass to A.J. Thomas, leaving North Central a yard away from the goal line, and Jordan Tassio ran in on the next play for a 14-0 advantage with 11:06 still remaining in the opening period.

Josh Mitchell returned a short IWU punt to the Titans' 28-yard line to open North Central's third scoring drive of the first quarter, and four plays later, Kukuc took an option pitch from Tassio for a two-yard TD run.

"We stress every week to score on the first drive," said Kukuc, who ran for a season-high 131 yards on just 13 carries.  "In the weeks past, we have been able to do that.  You could tell on the first drive the way the offensive line got that push, it was incredible."

The Cardinals opened their longest drive of the day near the end of the first period on their own five-yard line and visited the end zone once again nine plays later. The final 55 yards were covered in two plays, as Stanek fired a 24-yard pass to Chad O'Kane bfore finding Halaiano Fuentes for a 31-yard touchdown. North Central tacked on a fifth TD of the half with 7:24 on the clock, as Stanek capped off a 12-play, 52-yard drive with a seven-yard TD toss to Peter Sorenson, and Nick Daceadded a 38-yard field goal just before time expired to send the hosts into halftime with a gargantuan 38-0 advantage.

North Central's final offensive touchdown was a two-yard pass from Stanek to Thomas late in the third period, and linebacker Joey Michals notched the game's final score, intercepting a pass from Illinois Wesleyan quarterback Tyler Hook and returning it 39 yards to the end zone. Michals also returned an interception for a touchdown in last season's game against the Titans.

"The defensive line put pressure on him and everyone else was in coverage," Michals said. "It just came to me and everyone was blocking, so getting to the end zone was easy. I owe that to my teammates and my coaches."

The Cardinals finished with a total of 477 yards while allowing only 187. Stanek completed 17 of 25 passes for 226 yards, as Chad O'Kane caught four passes for 61 yards and Ryne Rezac gained 36 yards on four grabs. Oshayne Brown, who came on in the fourth quarter in relief of Kukuc, gained 60 yards on just six carries.

North Central's defense conspired to make life miserable for Titan freshman quarterback Tyler Hook, who was making his first collegiate start. Hook completed 16 of 40 passes for 130 yards, throwing three interceptions and being sacked five times. Quinn Haas recorded six tackles and broke up three passes for the Cardinals, while Josh Beveridge registered 2.5 quarterback sacks.

"We planned all week on being dominant," Michals said. "That's our mindset going into every game. Our coaches did a great job, like they do every week, putting us in position to win and be dominant like we were today."

The Cardinals host Wheaton College (6-2, 4-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m., with Senior Day festivities to be observed prior to kickoff. North Central will have the opportunity to clinch at least a share of its seventh straight CCIW title.

"It will be a pretty huge game next Saturday," Thorne said. "We love playing Wheaton. It is always a fun, exciting atmosphere, but this one is really, really huge for us, the most important we've had."

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
TBA
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
TBA
Endicott at Framingham State
TBA
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
TBA
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
TBA
UW-Platteville at George Fox
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
1:00 PM
Kean at Christopher Newport
1:00 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
6:00 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Marietta at Denison
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Recap Photos