DECATUR — After back-to-back home wins that set the Millikin football team's season back on track, the Big Blue begin a two-game road trip on Saturday at Carthage.
Following a 63-6 loss to Wheaton, Millikin returned home and beat Augustana 28-27 and rolled over Carroll University 55-10 last week to improve to 4-1 overall, 3-1 in the CCIW.
Big Blue quarterback Nicco Stepina threw for 380 yards passing and seven touchdowns against Carroll, tying Millikin records in each category. His performance earned Stepina CCIW Offensive Player of the Week honors.
In all, Millikin amassed 662 yards of total offense against Carroll while holding the Pioneers to 282, including only 82 yards passing. The Big Blue defense had four sacks and eight tackles for a loss.
Led by Matt Brown and Nikia Averitte, the Millikin defense remains among NCAA Division’s III best at stopping opponents in their own backfield. Millikin is tied for ninth in the country in tackles for a loss, averaging 10 per game. The Big Blue is tied for ninth in sacks averaging 4.2 per game. Overall, Millikin leads the CCIW in sacks with 21, which is five more than any other team.
In CCIW games only, Millikin and Carthage (2-3, 2-2) are tied for first in sacks with 16. Millikin is ranked second in total offense averaging 498 yards per game while Carthage is ranked first in total defense allowing only 286 yards per game.
For the season, Millikin's Jazontae Howard leads the conference in rushing, averaging 109 yards per game, followed by Carthage’s Lafayette McGary, who averages 106 yards per game.
Carthage lost a heartbreaker at No. 18 Illinois Wesleyan, 40-34 in double overtime last week. The Red Men thought they had scored the game-tying touchdown, but it was called back on a penalty. The Red Men outgained the Titans 424-401 and dominated the running game with 183 rushing yards to just 31 for Illinois Wesleyan.
Carthage sophomore quarterback Billy Dury finished the day 20-for-37 with career-highs in touchdowns (three) and passing yards (235).
Carthage has won four straight in the series and has handled the Big Blue the last two years, including winning 45-27 last year in Kenosha. The Red Men scored three times in the third quarter to blow open the game. Millikin finished the game with 355 yards of total offense, but allowed Carthage 605 yards. Three Millikin turnovers were also a factor in the contest.