There it is, the Little Brass Bell… and the battle lie ahead for North Central stars Broc Rutter and Andrew Kamienski. Wheaton has won the last two, but starts Luke Anthony for the first time against the Cardinals. Junior safety Dakota Cremeens eyeing a stout defensive effort inside McCully Stadium as the teams clash for supremecy in the CCIW.
First quarter , first drive for North Central. Broc Rutter hits junior breakout receiver Blake Williams on the crosser… and he hits the afterburners. The Metea Valley product taking it 54 yards into Wheaton territory.
Capping the drive, NCC handing off to sophomore back Ethan Greenfield… and he plows through, into the endzone, as North Central takes a quick 7-0 lead. Third rushing score of the season for Greenfield.
As for the first Wheaton drive? A 7 play, 40 yard drive that ends in a punt – in part, thanks to this batted pass from Talha Ayhan.
After a North Central punt, Wheaton facing 3rd and 9… and pressure from Bryan Beauchamp forces Anthony to heave it up… and somehow, someway, Phillip Nichols gets under it and nabs the pass for a big first down.
Same drive, but extending into the second quarter, and Wheaton drawing even on the touchdown pass from Anthony to running back TJ Williams. 7-7 with 12:13 to go in the half.
Can North Central answer? After leaving the game earlier after taking a big hit, Andrew Kamienski returning to pick up and move the chains.
Later in the quarter, Rutter, setting his sights deep, rocks back and fires a long range missile that’s snagged by Williams for the touchdown! Never mind that pass interference, NCC now up 14-7.
Now less than two minutes to go in the half and Josh Julian Bell comes on the DB blitz and gets home on Anthony – big loss of 7 yards.
Second half now, second drive for Wheaton and Dan Gilroy gets into the backfield untouched and throttles the Wheaton running back.
That eventually leads to a 4th and 1 from the NCC 47… and Nichols reaching for the marker… and he’s going to get a lot more. He busts free for a 47 yard touchdown – tying the game at 14.
Back and forth we go… and on 3rd and 3, it’s NCC’s turn. Rutter targeting Williams again on the 9 route… and hits him in stride – gain of 35.
Two plays later and Rutter zips it to Kamienski, who runs a beautiful route to shake free. Once again, Cardinals lead – now 21-14 with 4:38 to play in the third quarter. The North Central faithful loving it.
This… they won’t love. Anthony again placing a long-distance phone call, and Nichols answering again. This time for 37 yards.
And to finish the series, Anthony floats it to the corner and Nichols hauls it in. Wheaton pulling even at 21 – which is how we go to the fourth quarter.
And to start the fourth, Rutter facing pressure… and down he goes. Dallas McRae on the sack to force a punt.
As has been the case all day long, Wheaton aiming for the big play and converting. This time a jump ball that Nichols wrestles away. And he’ll scamper into the endzone as Wheaton claims its first lead of the day.
North Central needs to respond with 13:48 on the clock. Rutter finding Kamienski – who corrals 14 passes for 112 yards. But the drive stalls.
Looking to go up two scores, Anthony has Adam Terrini on a double move. And the Thunder up 35-21.
Last chance for North Central… and the pass falls incomplete. The Bell stays with Wheaton as North Central suffers it’s first loss of 2019.