Big Blue Wins Ugly


Photo by: Athena Pajer

Wide Receiver Jordan Smith running to score MU’s last touchdown of the game against North Park. Smith jumped from twelfth to tenth all-time MU greatest wide receivers.

Millikin beat the North Park Vikings 48-27, but the game was much closer than Big Blue would have liked to see.

“I have a rule that I’m not supposed to get upset when we win, but they’re testing me on this one today,” Coach Dan Gritti said after the game.

This echoed his sentiments about their win against Hope last week, but this week had a few distinctions.

The main difference is, Millikin was expected to blow out North Park. This was Millikin’s fifty-ninth game against the Chicago college and the Big Blue have not only won 52 games against them, but in the last ten years the have beat them a total of eight out of ten times. With this new-and-improved team, the score gap should have been much wider.

“Obviously, we could have been a better team, today, playing against ourselves,” Nicco Stepina, Big Blue Quarterback, said. “The win looks nice, but we obviously left some points off the board.”

That being said, offense had a good game.

Running backs Jazontae Howard and Ladavion Severado gained 194 yards and 59 yards respectively. Gerald Perry gained a total of 115 receiving yards, moving from ninth-place to eighth-place in MU’s all-time greatest wide receiver rankings. Jordan Smith gained 140 yards and scored the final touchdown, jumping from twelfth place to tenth place.

“Jordan’s a special player and always trying to find ways to get him the ball is important to us,” Gritti said.

On defense, Kyle Ramos led the tackles, followed closely by Matt Brown who also managed to sack the North Park quarterback Grant Borsch twice.

“Our two best players today were Matt Brown on defense and Jazontae Howard on offense,” Gritti said. “Both of them played within themselves and did what we needed to do and we’re looking to them to continue and improve. The question for us is if we can raise the level of everyone. We were too up-and-down, today.”

We saw that the veteran players had the best day, but a few freshmen rotated into the game and did well, too.

Gritti noted that Jordan Telez, Jamal Martin and Christopher Vogt, all freshmen, had a good day on the defensive line. Of course, there’s still room for improvement.

Each quarter followed a similar pattern: MU scored early entering each quarter, but the Vikings managed to squeak in a touchdown exiting, including one touchdown with less than thirty seconds into the game.

Compared to last weekend, though, the general consensus is that they were more even than they were last week at Hope.

“Our highs in this game weren’t as high as they were against Hope,” Gritti said. “But, tackling was better. The big drives they had were always big-pass plays, so got to get back in the room to get our corners situated to make sure we’re not making the same mistakes again.”

So that’s the first course of action.

“It’s no longer, at Millikin, about winning a football game. We’re here to win a championship. For that to happen, all performance level needs to be raised.”

Now the team is left wondering if they can raise the level of the team in time to meet Wheaton on their turf by next week.