Big Blue Football Gets Redemption

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Dominique Bates, Staff Writer

After a crushing defeat at the hands of the North Central Cardinals only a week ago, the Big Blue had one thing on their mind as they faced off against the North Park Vikings.

Redemption.

It was time for the Millikin football team to step up and get back on the winning track.

On Saturday, the Big Blue took the field at North Park University in Chicago.

It was a battle from the beginning of the game to the end.

Both offenses stalled early on, as the defenses did their jobs. An interception by Demetreeus Loper put the Big Blue deep in their opponent’s territory. The North Park defense once again came out on top, and they forced a turnover on downs for the Big Blue.

Millikin eventually got on the board first. First, with a safety, after North Park’s punter dropped the snap in the end zone, and then proceeded to kick it out the back like a soccer ball. And then, a Nicco Stepina touchdown pass to receiver Jordan Smith on the ensuing drive. The Big Blue went up 9-0, but a muffed punt led to a Vikings touchdown, making the score 9-7.

The Big Blue went to the locker rooms at the half with a 9-7 lead.

North Park scored again in the third quarter to take the lead, 13-9 after a pass from Stepina was tipped and intercepted by the North Park defense. The Big Blue answered back with a Jazontae Howard touchdown run, thus regaining the lead. A few drives later, the Big Blue scored again after a George Jimerson Jr. run to go up 23-13.

A Lashon Johnson interception led to Millikin’s last points. Stepina hit Smith for their second touchdown of the day.

North Park added their last points to the scoreboard on a safety, after sacking Stepina in the end zone.

The Big Blue defense won the game, as they held the Vikings offense to negative eight rushing yards. There were also eight total sacks, including Davion Jefferson’s 2.5 sacks. Matt Brown was the leading tackler with twelve.

Although the defense shone, the offense played a role as well. Stepina and Smith led the offense. Stepina threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Smith had six catches for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns as well.

This win not only shows the growth made from the 2016 season, but it also shows the resiliency this Millikin team has.

“We kept fighting,” Coach Dan Gritti said. “Millikin teams in the past would have not, they would have laid down at that point. The fact that our guys kept fighting, kept focusing, and kept working hard is a testament to I think how far we’ve come.”

The Big Blue went on to win the game, 30-15. They are now 3-1 on the season, and 1-1 in conference play. They will face Wheaton on Saturday, for homecoming.