Wheaton, Ill. – The Wheaton Thunder football team defeated Millikin 35-19 on Saturday afternoon under clear skies at McCully Stadium for Wheaton's annual Homecoming game. Today's victory improves Wheaton to 6-0 on the season with a 4-0 record in CCIW play.
Saturday's win against Millikin was Wheaton's 27th consecutive victory in regular season play, dating back to November 16, 2013. The 27-game streak establishes a new school record for consecutive regular season victories, surpassing the 26-game streak that ran from September 21, 2002 to October 23, 2004.
The Wheaton offense totaled 423 yards on Saturday, with 280 passing yards with 143 rushing yards. Millikin registered 292 yards of total offense in the game, with 227 yards through the air and 65 yards on the ground.
Wheaton quarterback Andrew Bowers completed 19 of his 33 passing attempts for 280 yards with four touchdown tosses. The senior also ran for 28 yards on the day. Junior Sola Olateju carried the ball 18 times for 98 yards to anchor the Thunder ground game. Chase White caught a team-high five passes for 65 yards with one touchdown catch. Zach Lindquist, Trey Hanley and Tyler Pace each had touchdown catches for the hosts.
Luke Sahly made a team-high nine total tackles (five solo) for the Thunder defense. Eric Stevenson, Caleb Ashby and Noah Spielman each registered six total tackles in the game. Stevenson had a 12-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter and also registered a tackle for lost yardage (-3 yards) in the game. The Thunder defense registered seven quarterback sacks in the game, led by Chase Greenlee with three sacks (-11 yards) and two quarterback hurries. Patrick O'Connell tallied two sacks (-13 yards) and Austin Hoover added two sacks (-9 yards). Mason Ohendalski had an interception in the Thunder secondary.
Millikin quarterback Nicco Stepina was 22-for-37 passing on the day, with 227 passing yards and three touchdown tosses. Kyle McMahon carried the ball 14 times for 55 yards. Gerald Perry had a team-high eight catches for 80 yards and David Jackson caught seven passes for 89 yards with two touchdown catches.
A Big Blue turnover led to Wheaton's first touchdown. On third-and-19 at the Millikin nine-yard line Stepina threw a pass that Ohlendalski picked off at the guests' 19-yard line and he returned it to the Millikin 15-yard line. Wheaton scored on the second play of the ensuing drive as Bowers connected a wide open Pace in the end zone on a 12-yard touchdown pass. Wheaton converted the PAT kick that followed to give the hosts a 7-0 lead with 7:27 remaining in the first quarter. The Millikin drive that followed Pace's touchdown was stalled and Wheaton started its next drive at the Thunder 40-yard line. The Thunder put together an eight-play drive of 60 yards that culminated with a six-yard touchdown pass from Bowers to Chase White with 1:45 left in the first quarter. White's touchdown increased the Thunder lead to 14-0.
Millikin cut the Thunder lead to 14-7 with 10:54 remaining in the second quarter when Stepina threw a 12-yard pass to Jordan Smith. Stepina tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jackson with 3:24 remaining in the first half. The PAT attempt by Millikin was no good as Wheaton held a 14-13 lead late in the first half. The Thunder responded with an eight-play drive of 75 yards over the final three minutes that concluded on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Bowers to Lindquist.
Millikin again cut into the hosts' lead in the fourth quarter when Stepina connected with Jackson on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 12:33 remaining in the game. The Big Blue attempted a two-point conversion and the guests' pass attempt was deflected by J Moore as the Thunder lead was 21-19 with 12:33 left in the fourth quarter. Wheaton extended its lead to 28-19 late in the game when Bowers connected with Trey Hanley on a 23-yard touchdown pass with 3:14 remaining in regulation. Millikin's first play of the drive that followed Hanley's touchdown was a pass attempt that was intercepted by Stevenson who returned it 12 yards for a touchdown. Stevenson's touchdown increased Wheaton's lead to the 35-19 score that became the final score.