Millikin Football Falls to North Central in Season Finale

Aaron Pellican

This past Saturday, the Millikin football team, led by coach Dan Gritti, welcomed the opposing North Central College to Frank M. Lindsay field for what was the final game of Millikin’s season.  North Central College, who was ranked #6 in the country for Division III football coming into Saturday, arrived with an 8-1 record and a lot of momentum as they had been bull dozing their way through any opponent in their path.  Before the game on Saturday, North Central College had outscored their opponents 491 -105 throughout the season. Their #1 ranked offense in all of Division III football proposed a very tall task to Millikin and their departing seniors on senior night.  Seniors who were playing their last game for Millikin included offensive lineman Rodney Baker, linebacker Matthew Brown, offensive lineman Jackson Delfosse, defensive lineman Davion Jefferson, running back George Jimerson Jr., defensive back David Rivers, linebacker Jordan Williams, and wide receiver Jordan Smith.  

The opening kick-off of the game was returned 89 yards for a touchdown by North Central’s DeAngelo Hardy, starting the game off on the wrong foot for coach Dan Gritti and the team.  While this normally may have been an early gut punch considering the level of competition Millikin was facing, the team bounced right back and brought the fight to North Central. Junior running back Richard Cosey opened Millikin’s offensive attack with a 48-yard run on his first carry of the game and never looked back from there as he racked up 152 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.  Cosey carried Millikin’s offense throughout the first half of the game as quarterback Cal Pohrte was struggling to find passing lanes along with any time to throw early on. Pohrte found somewhat of a rhythm in the second half however, ending up with 121 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air. A combined 324 yards of total offense along with over 37 minutes in time of possession was not enough for Millikin however, as they fell to North Central 59-32.  North Central ran away with the game after halftime and ended up totaling 506 yards of offense despite only having 22 minutes in time of possession as they were having their way with Millikin’s defense just about all game long.  

Despite the score, this was a very good effort from Millikin’s team as they became only the second team all season to score more than 14 points against North Central, the other coming in the Cardinals’ only loss of the season against Wheaton, 21-35.  The energy on Millikin’s sideline and on the field was evident from the jump as the team truly did leave everything on the field to end their season and the careers of 8 seniors. Even though the defense struggled, senior Matthew Brown ended his fantastic Millikin career with a team high 10 tackles.  Senior Jordan Smith finished the game with 52 yards and a touchdown and ended his career as the all-time leading receiver in the history of Millikin football. Smith ends the season with 1,053 receiving yards along with 11 touchdowns and finishes his historic Millikin career with 182 receptions, 3,353 receiving yards, and 48 touchdowns which are all Millikin records.  

Even though it wasn’t a picture-perfect finish, it was an energetic and wholesome finish for Millikin’s season.  The team finishes the season with a 5-5 record but the game on Saturday ended the season on a true high note. With a lot of returning talent, coach Dan Gritti and his team has plenty to build off of as we look forward to the 2020 season.