November 16, 2017
This past Saturday, Nov. 11, the Wheaton Thunder kicked off for the last time this season against the Carroll University Pioneers. In the freezing weather, the Thunder pulled out a 71-0 victory. This is the most points the Thunder have scored since they scored 73 points against North Park in 2006. No. 22-ranked Wheaton finished out their season 8-2 and 6-2 in CCIW play.
The Thunder had an impressive 585 yards of total offense, with 236 passing yards and 349 rushing yards. Senior Sola Olateju contributed a career-high 273 rushing yards. This gave him 3,194 career rushing yards, a new record for the Thunder football team, breaking Pedro Arruza’s 1995 record of 3,179 yards. Olateju is one of two running backs in Wheaton’s history to gather more than 3,000 career yards.
Olateju also gained four touchdowns at Carroll, moving him into a tie for fifth in Wheaton’s career touchdown list with 34 touchdowns. Freshman T.J. Williams rushed for 52 yards on three attempts, gaining a touchdown. Senior Jerome Grey also had a touchdown for the Thunder on 16 total rushing yards.
Senior Spencer Peterson didn’t play in Saturday’s game, as expected. Junior Jesse Furrow started for the Thunder, completing 14 of 21 passing attempts for 236 yards. He had two touchdown passes to seniors Chase White and Zach Lindquist. White caught six passes for 110 yards, while Lindquist had four catches for 76 yards. Lindquist’s most exciting play was his 56-yard touchdown catch.
The Thunder defense kept the Pioneers on lock down, allowing only 125 yards of total offense. Senior Chase Greenlee led Wheaton with five solo sacks and eight solo tackles. He had 15.5 sacks for the year, tying for the third-highest single-season total in program history. Greenlee has 31.5 sacks for his career, placing him at second for Wheaton’s career sacks list. He also forced a fumble, which was recovered by Austin Hoover, who returned it for a four-yard touchdown. Senior Luke Sahly gathered seven total tackles. Junior Eric Stevenson also had seven total tackles and a forced fumble. Senior Luke Smith and junior Corey Kennedy each had six total tackles, with Smith recovering a fumble.
Sophomore Griffin Bowes had 12 kickoffs for the Thunder, kicking for a total of 691 yards with two touchbacks. He averaged 57 yards a kick. Junior Zach Feddeler punted twice for 82 yards. Returning for the Wheaton special teams, sophomore Phillip Nichols caught eight punts for 131 yards. Junior Carter Roberts received one kickoff for 33 yards.
Despite their thrilling performance against Carroll, the Thunder did not make it into the NCAA DIII football playoffs. With losses to Illinois Wesleyan and Millikin, both CCIW opponents, Wheaton lost the chance at gaining an automatic bid from the CCIW conference championship. The last time the Thunder failed to make it into the CCIW championship and the NCAA playoffs was in 2013.