EC football loses final game to North Central

Senior Connor Brewer, Sophomore Ben Halloway, and Sophomore Austin McKellar celebrate in the end zone after an EC touchdown. (File Photo)

Coming off a victory over Millikin in week nine, the EC football team had momentum on their side as they traveled to Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium to face the undefeated North Central Cardinals.

That momentum was promptly halted as the Cardinals (10-0) threw a 75-yard touchdown pass on their first play from scrimmage and led for the duration as they took down the Bluejays (5-5) by a final score of 59-17 on Nov. 12.

When asked about his team’s goals going into the game, EC Head Coach Ron Planz stated that, “We wanted to come in and play our style of game. We wanted to be physical. We wanted to try and get our athletes the ball in space.”

“We had a couple ways to get Kaylon Miller the ball,” he added. “We tried to get Jawan [Gaines] the ball, get Matt Brachmann involved. Get Orlando [Hernandez] running a little bit.”

The Bluejays managed to get on the board midway through the opening quarter when North Central fumbled away the possession on their own 13-yard line, which led to a Bluejay field goal to make the score 7-3.

Freshman wide receiver Jawan Gaines took a second down swing pass down to the Cardinals 1-yard line and a touchdown seemed likely, but a few Cardinal stops and a penalty forced the Bluejays to settle.

NC went on to add three unanswered touchdowns, ultimately heading into halftime with a commanding 38-17 lead.

When asked about the performance of his defense, Coach Planz remarked that, “We just wanted to be sound. We knew they’d be taking some deep shots. We tried to get some pressure, but they had good protection and got behind us a little bit.”

The Cardinals ended the day with 351 total yards and four touchdowns through the air, averaging 9.8 yards per pass attempt.

Overall, it was a long day for the Bluejays as North Central showed everyone exactly why they are such a highly regarded, nationally ranked program.

Watching them finish an undefeated season, Coach Planz shared his feelings on the Cardinals, “They’ve had some history and tradition. They’ve had a consistent coaching staff for a few years and that has helped them with recruiting.”

“Once you get the ball rolling a little bit, you’re able to keep it going,” he added.

“They’ve got great players and they’ve built a really good program and they’re going to be strong.”

The victory over the Bluejays marks the 18th consecutive Cardinal win in the series, a streak that dates back to 1999. North Central leads the all-time series between the teams, 55- 21-1.

The Bluejays did manage to battle throughout and found the end-zone twice.

Heading into the 2017 season, the Bluejays will plan on returning eight offensive starters who will provide a core that will be leaned on heavily, as the defense will lose nine senior starters.

Coach Planz had strong words for his senior group, “My message to my seniors is that I love them and I don’t know how we’re going to replace them. Everything they’ve done for this program is immeasurable [and] I appreciate their faith in me.”

After a pair of non-conference games, the Bluejays begin their CCIW schedule in week three at North Park University on September 16, 2017.