DECATUR — Millikin junior quarterback Cal Pohrte set a new Millikin record for passing yards in a game to lead the Big Blue to a 27-21 win against Hope to open the season on Friday.
The big question facing Millikin to open the season was if the Big Blue could replace all-time leading passer Nicco Stepina. But Pohrte answered those questions with 390 yards on 20-of-32 passing with two touchdowns.
Senior Jordan Smith, a Shelbyville graduate, had six catches for 216 yards and one touchdown while sophomore Colton Lockwood, an Eisenhower graduate, had seven catches for 102 yards.
Hope scored on its second possession when senior quarterback Mason Opple scored on 9-yard run midway through the first quarter.
The Big Blue scored in the final minute of the first quarter on a 2-yard run from Kame'Ron Graham. The four-play, 80-yard drive was spurred by a 76 yard pass from Pohrte to Smith.
Opple scored on an 8-yard run to make it 14-7 Hope with 9:14 left in the first half.
Millikin's quick strike offense went back to work with Pohrte finding Smith from 38 yards out for the score. The four-play, 89-yard drive also included a 49-yard pass from Pohrte to Smith. The conversion attempt failed and it was 14-13 Hope at halftime.
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The Big Blue scored on its opening possession of the second half to go up 20-14. Pohrte connected with Patrick Cooper on a 16 yard pass for the touchdown.
Opple scored his third rushing touchdown, this time from 43 yards out, to make it 21-20 Hope with 8:36 left in the third quarter.
Millikin took the lead for good with 2:32 left in the third on a 2-yard run from Graham.
Millikin had 499 yards in total offense (390 passing and 109 rushing) while holding Hope to 377 yards (180 rushing and 197 passing).
Ladavion Severado led the Millikin rushing attack with 20 carries for 106 yards.
Senior co-captain Matt Brown led Millikin in tackles with 13. Jaquan Harrell had 11 tackles including 2.5 tackles for a loss. Tatum Teicher had eight tackles including two tackles for a loss.
Opple had 99 yard rushing for Hope and was 15-20 passing for 197 yards.
Jake Babb and Jeremiah Purnell each had eight tackles for Hope.
Millikin has an off week before opening College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin play on Sept. 21 at North Park.