Judah Newby | Sports Editor
After a loss in last week’s first road game of the year at Albion College, Mich., the Wheaton Thunder football team took to the road again to finish up their non-conference schedule at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Wheaton took a 14-0 lead into halftime before exploding in the second half for 39 points en route to the dominating 53-7 victory over the Norse of Luther College (0-3). Wheaton is now 2-1 overall, ranked 20th in the nation according to D3football.com, and has a bye week this weekend before beginning conference play next week on the road at Augustana.
Senior quarterback Jordan Roberts led the Thunder offense in the air and was also a threat on the ground, passing for 242 yards and four touchdowns while also running for 50 yards. Senior tailback Peter Jarrett got in the end zone once as well as part of his 19 carries and 64 yards, while freshman wideout Grayson Roberts caught two touchdown passes from his older brother Jordan Roberts and had three catches for 30 yards overall on the day.
“It was very important for us to respond with a big win,” Jordan Roberts said. “We didn’t play very well against Albion at all, so we were looking to come out against Luther and start right from the beginning.”
The Thunder did get in front early with two first-quarter touchdowns, the first coming after a nine-play, 58-yard drive that was finished by a six-yard touchdown pass from Roberts to senior Morgan Cook. It was Cook’s third receiving touchdown of the year and gave the Thunder a 7-0 lead.
Six minutes later Wheaton duplicated their first scoring drive, using nine plays to get in the end zone, when Roberts found Grayson Roberts for another six-yard score. With two receiving touchdowns on the day, the freshman Roberts leads the team in receiving touchdowns with four. The Thunder maintained the 14-0 lead through the second quarter and into the halftime break.
Despite the two-touchdown lead after the first quarter, Head Coach Mike Swider believes his team still needs to improve in starting games faster.
“I was a little concerned with the way we started; that’s two weeks in a row now that we haven’t started the way we want to start, and I challenged our kids with that today, you got to start fast and you got to finish hard, and I just don’t think we’ve come ready to play the way I’ve wanted us to. And its not a lack of effort, it’s not that they don’t care, it just seems that they’ve got to play themselves into the game a little bit. But once we got going I was happy with what we did,” Swider said.
As for Jordan Roberts, completing 26 of his 36 pass attempts was helped in large part by nice protection from his offensive line, a week removed from being sacked eight times against Albion.
“It was nice to have a decent game,” Roberts said of his performance. “I did feel like I was more comfortable back in the pocket this past game compared to against Albion. The offensive line did a great job and they’re getting better each week.”
The entire Thunder offense played at a higher level in this contest, especially once the second half began. After forcing a punt to open the half, Wheaton’s offense took off on yet another nine-play drive that resulted in six points. The Roberts Roberts combination scored for the second time on the day as Jordan hit Grayson with a pass from nine yards out to take a 21-0 lead.
The Thunder finished the quarter with a field goal from sophomore Sam Cote and a one-yard touchdown run from Peter Jarrett to further extend their lead to 31-0 at the end of three.
The first play of the fourth quarter saw Roberts throw his fourth touchdown of the day, this time to junior David Washko from 14 yards out, putting Wheaton in front 39-0 with the two-point conversion.
Luther avoided the shutout with a touchdown in the fourth, but Wheaton answered a three-yard touchdown run by junior Justin Swider. The final play of the game summed it up for the Thunder as freshman linebacker Adam Dansdill intercepted a pass and took it 70 yards the other way for the score, giving Wheaton the final advantage of 53-7.
The Thunder hope to get a couple of key players back in the coming week before they take on Augustana in the CCIW opener next weekend in Rock Island. Senior quarterback Garrett Meador suffered an injury to his hand in the opener against Benedictine but is on the comeback trail, while All-Conference wideout Mark Hiben is recuperating from a head injury also suffered in the opener.
Kickoff next Saturday against Augustana is set for 1 p.m. Action can be heard on WETN fm 88.1 or streaming live on wetn.org.
File photo: Allison Freet.
Printed in the September 21, 2012, issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to email@example.com.