Dylan Warden accounted for 278 yards of total offense and four touchdowns, as North Central College decimated Carthage 53-23 on Saturday.
The scoring started early for the Cardinals with an 8 yard pass from Warden to Matt Randolph to make it 7-0. After a punt by Carthage that was returned 36 yards to the Carthage 37 yard line, it was another quick score for the Cardinals. Warden ran for 41 yards total on back-to-back plays after a holding call and then threw a 6 yard touchdown to Peter Sorenson to make it 14-0.
Carthage had an excellent drive stall out at the North Central 9 yard line and then settled for a 31 yard field goal from Thomas Brannen to cut the lead to 14-3 for NCC.
After a pair of punts, Carthage was intercepted on their own 35 yard line by P.J. Crotty to give the Cardinals another great scoring opportunity. The would capitalize with Zach Pattat pounding the ball in from a yard out to take a 21-3 lead.
Carthage started the second quarter with an excellent chance to close the gap, but Nick Anzelmo was stopped two yards short on fourth and seven at the NCC 28 yard line. The Cardinals would not take advantage of that stop, however.
Both teams then traded interceptions, first with Crotty’s second interception of the game and then with Warden intercepted in the end zone by Shawntrel Graner.
The Cardinals eventually scored the next points with Warden’s 30 yard dash into the end zone. That made it a 28-3 lead for North Central, but Carthage had a response with a touchdown of their own. Anzelmo’s 3 yard run made it 28-9, but Crotty came up with his third massive play of the game by blocking the extra point.
The first half ended with Dominic Zavaglia connecting from 32 yards to make it 31-9 at the break.
A third interception in the second half led to another field goal from North Central to extend the advantage to 34-9. Zavaglia added his third of the game on the next drive from 39 yards out and the Cardinals led 37-9.
Carthage came back with a touchdown from Anzelmo to Derek Bellamy from 10 yards out to cut the deficit to 37-16. However, the Cardinals offense proved too potent and quelled any minute comeback hopes. Warden connected with Sorenson for the second time in the game from 35 yards out and the lead was back up to 43-16. Zavaglia’s extra point was blocked after a false start on the original attempt.
The fourth quarter started with Zavaglia hitting his fourth field goal of the game and NCC leading 46-16.
That lead ballooned further for the Cardinals when Brandon Kibby took a pick six back to the house from 86 yards out to make it 53-16. Carthage scored a late touchdown when Bobby Suchecki hit Marcus Hines for a 5 yard touchdown to close out the scoring.
Nick Anzelmo went 16 of 25 for 201 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions for Carthage. Anzelmo was held in check on the running plays with only 21 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He was relieved by Bobby Suchecki in the final quarter who went 3 of 14 for 38 yards, one touchdown, and the pick six.
Derek Bellamy ran for 64 yards on 16 carries while also catching 2 passes for 11 yards and a touchdown. Tristan Peterson had 44 yards on 7 carries as well.
Leading the Red Men in receiving was James Cobbs III with 4 receptions for 89 yards. Brock Kap added 3 catches for 49 yards. Carthage gained 391 yards of total offense with 239 through the air and 152 on the ground.
Dylan Warden went 10 of 23 for 163 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception for North Central. He was also the leading rusher for the Cardinals with 10 rushes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Oshayne Brown had 84 yards on 7 carries with Zach Pattat contributing 9 rushes for 30 yards and a touchdown.
Once again, and to no one’s surprise, Peter Sorenson led the Cardinals in receiving with 6 catches for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns. Matt Randolph was the next best receiver for NCC with 31 yards and 1 touchdown on 2 catches.
Carthage (2-4, 1-2) have dropped two in a row and will face Augustana (IL) (2-4, 1-2) next Saturday.
North Central (5-1, 3-0) have a massive test next Saturday on the road. They travel to Wheaton (IL), who are 5-0 and 2-0 in conference heading into Saturday night’s game against Millikin.