Millikin Takes A Huge Win at Home

The Millikin football team traveled to Wisconsin to face its’ biggest test. The Carthage Red Men. The Big Blue had not defeated Carthage since 2013.

In a previous article, “Is Today the Day,” the question of whether or not it was finally time for Millikin to knock off one of its’ toughest adversaries and one of the toughest teams in the CCIW, was begged.

On, Saturday, October 13th, Big Blue fans would finally have their answer.

In past years, Millikin got off to a slow start. And Carthage usually took advantage of it. Last year, the Red Men took full advantage of Millikin’s struggles, and went on to win 45-27.

This year was a different story, as the Big Blue finally rewrote the script.

Millikin gained momentum early in the contest, when senior defensive end, Gabe Xayathone, sacked Carthage’s quarterback, and forced a fumble. He then recovered his own fumble

The turnover would set Millikin up in Carthage territory, and lead to the Big Blue getting on the board early. Senior quarterback, Nicco Stepina opened the scoring when he hit sophomore receiver Tyrice Hines for a 26-yard touchdown pass. The Big Blue led 7-0.

Carthage would answer back with a touchdown of its’ own. Followed by a field goal. The Red Men would go up 10-7.

Trailing Carthage, early in the second quarter, Stepina would connect with one of his favorite targets, junior receiver, Jordan Smith, on a 23-yard touchdown pass. The Big Blue took the lead, 13-10.

Stepina would hook up with Smith for a touchdown, once more, before the half concluded.

Stepina would suffer an injury, that would sideline him for the remainder of the game. At the half, Millikin led Carthage, 19-13.

With Millikin’s starting quarterback watching from the sidelines, all hope seemed lost for the Big Blue.

But in one of the most important games of the season, on the line, an unlikely hero would emerge.

Donning his clean white jersey, sophomore quarterback Cal Pohrte stepped on to Carthage’s field. Showing no fear, and displaying an immense amount of confidence, Pohrte, would lead his offense down the field.

A 37-yard pass completion from Pohrte to Smith, would put the Big Blue in Carthage territory. Howard would cap off the drive, with a rushing touchdown.

Trailing 26-13, Carthage would answer back, and cut the Big Blue’s lead to 26-20.

Millikin’s final touchdown, would prove to be the team’s biggest touchdown of the day. Pohrte would connect with Smith for a 23-yard touchdown. The Big Blue led 32-20.

The touchdown was also Smith’s biggest touchdown of the day. The touchdown would push his touchdown total to three, on the day. And would lead to Smith breaking the career touchdown reception record. The record was previously held by former Millikin and NFL player, Jeff Query.

Smith finished with 159 yards and three touchdowns.

Carthage would once again answer the call, and score a touchdown. Due to Millikin’s previous special team miscues, the Carthage score would put them within five points of the Big Blue.

Trailing 32-27, the Red Men would put together another long drive. The drive would be halted, after Millikin stopped them on 4th and 1, deep in the red zone.

Millikin would get the ball back, but Carthage would return the favor, thus stopping the Big Blue’s drive.

Carthage’s last meaningful drive would come to an end, after the Millikin defense answered the call, once again. Senior linebacker, Nikia Averitte, had the biggest play of the game. A sack, on second down, proved costly to the Red Men offense.

After being forced into a 4th down situation, deep in its’ own territory, Millikin opted to take a safety. To run some time off the clock.

Carthage’s final drive, would be halted by an turnover. By none other  than Smith. Smith, playing prevent defense, intercepted the pass.

Millikin went on to win  32-29.

It was a battle of the Big Blue men and the Red Men. And it was the Big Blue that proved victorious. In a game, that was plagued by adversity, the Big Blue fought through it.

The starting quarterback went down, and the back up not only picked him up, but picked the entire team up.

The win solidified the Big Blue as a top contender in the CCIW. And answered the question, that was previously begged.

Yes, today was the day.

MIllikin is now 5-1, and 4-1 in conference play. Next stop, Elmhurst.