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Millikin University Wins Against All Odds

Dominique Bates, Writer

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Despite a national controversy making headlines, against all odds, Millikin managed to knock off Augustana College. Not only did they defeat the Vikings, they crushed them. Although the final score does not seem to show that, it is clear Millikin had their way with Augustana.

Lately Millikin has been known for the controversy over the National Anthem, but it is time to give them the credit they deserve. The Big Blue beat Augustana for the first time in six years.

In previous years, Millikin has struggled against Augustana. Under first year coach Dan Gritti, sophomore captain and quarterback Nicco Stepina led the Big Blue to victory. He paved the way by throwing six touchdowns and passing for around 350 yards without an interception. Yes, six. In only three quarters. He was taken out after the 4th quarter.

Millikin controlled the game through all four quarters of play. They never trailed, and at one point their lead was 43-13. Augustana was able to cut that deficit with a few scores in the second half and most notably, the 4th quarter. By this time, Millikin basically had the game in hand. This proved to be the case considering Millikin won 43-35.

There were many positives to take away from this game.

Offensively, Stepina was a touchdown machine.

Coach Gritti was not surprised by Stepina’s performance, but wasn’t expecting six touchdowns from his sophomore quarterback.

“I expected him to play well. I think he’s a great player. I think anyone that says they ever expect any quarterback that’s not called Tom Brady to throw six touchdowns, in a game without throwing an interception, is probably kidding themselves. I wouldn’t say I expected that performance but I was definitely pleased to see it,” Gritti said.

His reads were good and the ball was on target. He hit receivers Jordan Smith, David Jackson, Avantae Meriwether, and Gerald Perry easily all game. Jackson and Meriwether each had a touchdown, while Smith and Perry had two apiece. The running game didn’t account for any touchdowns, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. The ground game had a solid performance. Kyle McMahon was ground and pound all day, while Andre Colvin and George Jimerson helped carry the rest of the load. The dominant running game allowed Millikin to spread the field, opening up opportunities for the passing game.

The Big Blue defense was incredible. Stepina and the offense’s play might overshadow the defensive performance, but it shouldn’t. The front seven dominated the Augustana offense. Augustana had no answer for defensive lineman Gabe Xayathone. Xayathone, originally a linebacker, transitioned to defensive lineman this season, and it has paid off.  Gritti and his entire coaching staff are showing exactly why they have and will continue to be successful. Xayathone has been a force to be reckoned with. His speed has helped him be successful.

“He’s a human missile,” Gritti said.

Xayathone found his way behind the line of scrimmage to sack the Augustana quarterback three times alone in the game. It’s no surprise he and the rest of the defensive line have had success considering they are led by senior captain Travis Goveia. The defensive backs played well too.  To be honest, the whole defense played great and helped secure the win.

This game was proved to be a success, and hopefully, it will turn out to be a defining moment, setting the tone for the rest of the season.  Multiple players stepped up and showed why the are such amazing athletes. Stepina’s six touchdowns helped earn him the honor of being the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin player of the week, and helped him break the school record for passing touchdowns in a single game. Xayathone was named the team’s defensive player of the week, rightfully so.

Overall, Millikin played an impressive game. They played four quality quarters of football, which at times has proven to be difficult. In the past, they would have started to slow down after the first half. That did not happen this time.

“It was a complete performance,” Gritti said.

Millikin is currently 3-3 after defeating Augustana College for the first time in six years. They look to continue their success by winning their game against Carroll University, by completing a two game winning streak for the first time since 2012.

With the whole Millikin family standing behind their football team, they hope to finish their final games on a high note.

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Millikin University Wins Against All Odds