Wheaton breaks free of Benedictine

By D.J. Wanberg
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/2/2017 11:38 PM

For the first 20 minutes of Saturday night's Wheaton College at Benedictine University football game, the Thunder faced the football equivalent of a padlock on the end zone.

Wheaton led 8-0 on two field goals and a safety after 20 minutes, but the offense could not reach the end zone.

The Thunder, however, got quite a pair of bolt cutters in the form of 38 unanswered points in the second quarter and went on to win the teams' season opener 57-14.

The first visit to the end zone came five minutes into the second period when Sola Olateju ran for the biggest play offensively of the night, an 82-yard dash for a TD.

"We went to the run more and when we do that, it opens up more plays," Olateju said. "(The first touchdown) was an inside zone play. I pressed the center and the right defensive end collapsed. I had an amazing block and took off."

Just less than three minutes later Olateju ran for a 54-yard score. He finished with 170 yards.

The Thunder, ranked sixth in the D3football.com preseason poll, kept its momentum going with a 42-yard TD sprint by Stone Watson and touchdown passes of 64 yards to Adam Terrini and 8 yards to Zach Lindquist from Curtis McWilliams. That gave Wheaton a 43-0 advantage at halftime.

The Thunder racked up 437 of its 545 yards of offense in the first two quarters. The Wheaton defense held the Eagles to 99 yards passing in the first half and 0 yards rushing.

Benedictine coach Josiah Sears said the Eagles' defense was strong in the first 20 minutes of the contest but obviously needed to go beyond that.

"We tackled better than we did in the second quarter. We knew what was coming. They're a great team and it was going to take a great effort by us," he said. "We'll use this an opportunity to grow and get better.

Wheaton scored the first TD by either team in the third quarter just less than four minutes in when Tyler Sigler intercepted a pass and returned it 95 yards.

Benedictine did get on the scoreboard late in the third quarter and in the fourth. Dean Pauley caught a 6-yard pass from Ryan Sample and with 9:39 left in the game, Grant Jochums connected on a 7-yard pass from Joe Marcella.

With a top 10 national ranking and 70 returning juniors and seniors, the focus is on Wheaton. Olateju believes the focus of others will help the Thunder.

"With others looking at us, we know we are going to be the target and that will help us stay focused," he said.

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