Judah Newby | Sports Editor
Wheaton’s offense scored 49 unanswered points after surrendering a quick 7-0 lead to Augustana en route to their opening-week conference victory over the Vikings last Saturday, Sept. 29. The Thunder extended their winning streak against the Vikings to six, while also notching the second consecutive game of allowing seven points to an opponent.
Wheaton’s aerial attack was at its best, with the duo of senior quarterbacks Jordan Roberts and Garrett Meador combining for 483 yards and four scores and completing passes to 11 different receivers. Roberts completed 17 of 19 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, while Meador passed for 214 yards and two scores of his own on 15-for-25 passing.
One target that remained constant for both Roberts and Meador was sophomore receiver Mark Hiben. Hiben snagged 10 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown.
“It was huge to get off to a good start against Augustana,” Hiben said of the victory. “We had a rough start with some turnovers, but we stayed tough and started clicking on all cylinders in the second quarter. This win gives us confidence going into the rest of conference play.”
While Head Coach Mike Swider continues to stress that getting off to a fast start is important for his team, it was not to be found this week against Augustana. After the defense forced a fumble on the Vikings’ opening drive, the Thunder offense was forced to punt. Wheaton’s defense forced two fumbles on consecutive Vikings drives to open the game, but the offense had to punt on both occasions, the second being blocked and setting up a short field for the Vikings touchdown drive.
Trailing 7-0 midway through the first quarter, the Thunder offense started moving the ball consistently, only to see back-to-back drives end in an interception in the end zone and a fumble in Viking territory. The touchdown deficit stood as the first quarter ended.
The second quarter saw the offense put up 28 points to take control of the game. The first score came when Roberts hooked up with senior wide out Morgan Cook for a 37-yard score that capped off a three-play drive that took 40 seconds off the clock. Roberts completed passes of 22 and 26 yards on the next drive, setting up senior tailback Peter Jarrett on a four-yard touchdown carry to put Wheaton in front 14-7. The Thunder ran for a combined 102 yards in the contest.
The Thunder defense continued dominating their side of the ball on Augustana’s next possession, forcing their third turnover of the half with a fumble that junior linebacker Brett Anderson recovered and took 45 yards to the house, expanding the lead to 21-7.
Roberts orchestrated a six-play, 85-yard drive the next time he saw the ball, capping it with a short pass to junior halfback Charlie Velling that resulted in a 35-yard touchdown sprint to make it 28-7 Thunder going into the half.
Meador returned under center for the third quarter and promptly hit Cook on three consecutive throws including a 15-yard score to make it 35-7. Cook finished with six catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
More turnovers from the Vikings followed, including an interception by Thunder junior cornerback C.J. Nightingale and another fumble forced by senior linebacker Pat Dansdill that Nightingale recovered. Dansdill earned CCIW Defensive Player of the Week for his effort, accumulating a final stat line of 10 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
The Thunder offense proved grateful for the extra possessions and cashed in score after score, building a 42-7 lead through three quarters after Meador’s 39-yard scoring connection with Hiben. Roberts added a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth to account for the final score of 49-7.
It was an offensive performance that proved the advantages of the debated two-quarterback system, and while many teams struggle with such an approach, Hiben says that the talent of Wheaton’s two gunslingers simply adds to the offense’s power.
“Having two quarterbacks does nothing to affect chemistry or communication,” he said. “Both guys are seniors; they have both played a ton of games here at Wheaton and are both top quarterbacks in the conference. They both get the ball where it needs to be at the right times.”
The No. 20 Thunder (3-1, 1-0) finally come back to McCully Stadium for Homecoming Weekend as they take on Carthage College (Wisc.), their second CCIW foe of 2012. It is Wheaton’s first home game since their season-opener on Aug. 30,, when they defeated Benedictine University 48-7. Carthage is 3-1 overall and 1-0 in conference after taking down North Park 31-6 last week in Chicago. Kickoff for Wheaton-Carthage is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6.
Photo and Banner Credit: Allison Freet
Printed in the October 5, 2012, issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.