Fall break was an interesting one for the Thunder. On Saturday, Oct. 14, and Monday, Oct. 16, the Thunder faced off against No. 4 North Central. Wheaton won the “Battle for the Little Brass Bell” 42-20. The first half of the game took place under stormy conditions with a lightning delay of two hours. The Thunder left McCully Saturday underwater and down 7-13. On Monday, the only thunder rumbling was the Thunder, who scored five touchdowns in the second half and held the Cardinals to one.
Wheaton had 426 yards of offense, including 321 passing yards and 105 rushing yards. Senior Curtis McWilliams threw for 287 with three touchdown passes and a run. Sophomore Spencer Peterson threw 34 yards for a touchdown to junior Carter Roberts. Senior Sola Olateju ran for 120 yards with one touchdown. Senior Zach Lindquist caught for 78 yards and senior Trey Hanley received 73 yards with one touchdown.
The Thunder defense gave up 296 yards to the Cardinals. Junior Eric Stevenson led the defense with a team-high of 10 tackles. Senior Luke Sahly had eight tackles. Seniors Chase Greenlee and Austin Hoover each had a sack. Senior Nick Blazek and junior Luke Smith both recorded an interception.
After the exciting win against the Cardinals, head coach Mike Swider said, “This is the result of a lot of guys that love each other… the greatest motivator in the world isn’t the hate of your enemies, it’s the love of those guys behind you. This had nothing to do about North Central, this was about Wheaton.”
After winning against North Central, Wheaton walked into their game against North Park on October 21 riding high. Against North Park, Wheaton scored 56 points and held the Vikings to zero. The Thunder gathered 528 yards of offense, with 150 rushing yards and 378 passing yards. McWilliams went 16-22, passing for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Olateju and freshman TJ Williams both gained 67 yards. Olateju scored two touchdowns and Williams had one. Sophomore Phillip Nichols caught for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Hanley received for 83 yards and one score.
The Vikings were held to just 111 yards of offense. Stevenson lead the Thunder again with nine tackles. Junior Jack Bates had eight tackles, including one sack. Sahly and Smith both had six tackles and an interception.
After the North Park game, Olateju has moved into third on Wheaton’s career rushing list with 2,727 career rushing yards. He needs just over 400 more yards this season to claim first on the list.
After two much needed wins, the Thunder are in a bye week. They will resume play in a week against the Augustana Vikings. The Thunder are heading into the game on a two game winning streak, sitting in a comfortable 6-2 overall record and 4-2 in CCIW conference play. The Vikings are 1-7 overall and 1-5 in CCIW play. Wheaton kicks off against the Vikings for family weekend, November 4 at 1 p.m. in McCully Stadium.