North Central Crushes Millikin In Conference Opener

The North Central College Cardinals had little trouble getting past Millikin on Saturday night in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) opener for both teams. The Cardinals crushed the Big Blue 47-13 with a big second quarter.

The Cardinals took their first drive of the game 73 yards in 13 plays to take the early lead. Tyler Dicken threw a 6 yard touchdown pass to Peter Sorenson to cap the drive.

Millikin added a 36 yard field goal late in the first quarter from Chayce Volpert to make it 7-3. However, that would be as close as they would get. North Central started to drive late in the first quarter and ended it with Dicken’s 6 yard touchdown pass to Demarco Tillman.

A fumble by Nick Pippin gave the Cardinals the ball at the Millikin 47 yard line and they turned it into Dicken’s third touchdown pass of the night. He threw a 15 yarder to Ryan Kuhl to make it 20-3 after the extra point was blocked by Andy Roth. North Central then tried an onside kick and recovered, but were stopped on fourth and one to give the ball back to Millikin.

Millikin turned that into a field goal from 43 yards out off of Volpert’s leg. North Central answered back with a 37 yard field goal of their own to make it 23-6 late in the first half.

Millikin had a chance to score late in the first half, but a fumble derailed their opportunity and the would run out the clock and trail 23-6 at the break.

The Cardinals started the second half with a punt that ended up at their own 44 yard line. Millikin drove to the Cardinals’ 13 yard line, but Pippin was picked off by P.J. Crotty at the ten to end the threat. It would not take long for the Cardinals to put the game out of reach.

Dylan Warden came in and completed a 5 yard pass to Sorenson to move the sticks. On the next play, Warden hit Sorenson on a bomb for the 80 yard touchdown and the 30-6 lead.

NCC extended the lead further on the next drive as Dicken came back in and threw his fourth touchdown of the night. This one went to Kolton Kuczynski from two yards out and the Cardinals led 37-6.

The Millikin’s next play would be Pippin’s pass getting taken back to the house for a 40 yard interception return by Justin Stuursma. Stuursma was not done with the big plays, as the next Millikin drive ended when he recovered the fumble.

North Central added a 31 yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter to make it a 47-6 game before Millikin scored a very late and small consolation touchdown. Pippin hit Tucker Schwengel for the 3 yard touchdown pass to reach the final of 47-13.

Nick Pippin went 23 of 45 for 179 yards with 1 touchdown and two interceptions. He also carried the ball 11 times for 50 yards. Justin Brooks also had 50 yards, but did so on 8 carries. Isaiah Townsend was the top receiver for the Big Blue with 5 catches for 62 yards.

Tyler Dicken had an excellent game for the Cardinals even if his numbers were not eye-popping. He went 14 of 26 for 147 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception. Dylan Warden went 4 for 4 with 88 yards and a touchdown in his drive during the third quarter. Warden contributed 30 yards on 6 carries as well.

Ryan Kent ran for 107 yards on 19 carries while Matt Randolph had 7 rushes for 40 yards. Peter Sorenson had 8 catches for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ryan Kuhl was the second leading receiver with 3 catches for 34 yards and a touchdown.

Millikin (2-2, 0-1) will play at home next week against Illinois Wesleyan (2-2, 0-1). North Central (3-1, 1-0) goes on the road to face North Park (0-4, 0-1) in Chicago.

North Central lost last week to UW-Stevens Point and fell from number 5 to number 13. The Cardinals are expected to emerge from the game next week at North Park with a 2-0 record in CCIW play.

Wisconsin Struggles To Throw The Ball In Loss To Northwestern

Melvin Gordon

(Photo Credit to David Banks / Getty Images)

Melvin Gordon‘s career-high 259 yards rushing were not enough for the Badgers overcome Northwestern on Saturday. Godwin Igwebuike had THREE interceptions in the Wildcats win in a game that featured both Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy at quarterback for Wisconsin.

The Badgers’ first drive started well with Melvin Gordon breaking loose for a 58 yard run to the Northwestern 36 yard line. However, it ended with McEvoy throwing off his back foot to Alex Erickson. Igwebuike was there for his first interception and a touchback to end the drive.

The Badgers defense was stingy in the red zone after a long drive by the Wildcats. Jack Mitchell‘s 22 yard field goal make it 3-0. However, two drives later, Northwestern Trevor Siemian hit Dan Vitale for a 5 yard touchdown and a 10-0 lead.

Wisconsin threw three straight incompletions after that. There would be no scoring for the rest of the half and the Wildcats led 10-0 at the break.

Wisconsin started the second half strong, just as they have all year long. Melvin Gordon broke 61 yard run on the second play to the Northwestern 14 yard line. After Gordon converted a fourth and one at the 5 yard line, he ran in on the next play from 2 yards out to cut the deficit to 10-7.

The Badgers’ reverted to their interception throwing ways on the next drive. Stave’s arm was hit on the throw and it was picked off by Jimmy Hall. The Wildcats capitalized on the next play with Miles Shuler running in from 16 yards out on the reverse to make it 17-7.

Wisconsin had a chance to cut the lead to 7 but Rafael Gaglianone‘s 50 yard field goal was wide left. Northwestern went right down the field but was stopped in the final 5 yards again. Jack Mitchell tacked on his second 22 yard field goal of the game to take a 20-7 lead.

Wisconsin had a great opportunity to close the gap at the Northwestern 3 yard line. Joel Stave dropped back and then scrambled towards the sideline. He pass was thrown right in the path of Igwebuike for an interception in the end zone to end another scoring chance.

Stave found Kenzel Doe on the next drive to make it 20-14 Wildcats. Stave threw his third interception with less than 30 seconds remaining to Igwebuike, which allowed Northwestern to run the clock out.

It was another dreadful passing performance by the Badgers, though the cloudy and rainy weather had a big impact on the passing. Joel Stave went 8 for 19 for 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. Tanner McEvoy went 4 of 10 for 24 yards and an interception in a largely ineffective performance.

Melvin Gordon’s 259 yards and 1 touchdown performance went to waste for the Badgers. He did all that on 27 carries for a 9.6 yard-per-carry average.

Alex Erickson caught 4 passes for 45 yards. Kenzel Doe had 4 catches for 34 yards and a touchdown in his best game of the season.

The Badgers will need to find consistency in their passing game if they are to threaten in the Big Ten West division. The Badgers have thrown for 50, 289, 112, 160, and 138 yards in their first five games, including Saturday.

Gordon is up to 871 yards on 105 carries this year. His presence alone has made the Badgers far more competitive.

On Northwestern’s side of the ball, Trevor Siemian went 15 of 29 for 182 yards and a touchdown. Justin Jackson ran 33 times for 162 yards in his best performance of the year. Kyle Prater caught 5 balls for 55 yards to lead the Wildcats.

It is hard to ignore the Wildcats’ improved performances over the last two weeks. They defeated Penn State 29-6 in a dominant effort and have certainly put themselves in position to make a bowl game after finishing 5-7 in 2013.

Wisconsin (3-2, 0-1) returns home next week and will take on Illinois (3-3, 0-2). Northwestern (3-2, 2-0) goes on the road to face Minnesota (4-1, 1-0) who had a bye this week.