Second-half scoring run seals win for Titan football

William Heidenreich

For his performance against Millikin University, junior defensive tack Mike Murphy (above), was chosen to the D3football.com Team of the Week. 

Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.) was pummeled by the Titan football team 40-12. 

What IWU lacked in the first half, they compensated for in the second. 

The boys in green and white overcame a 12-7 deficit after the first two-quarters of the game, coming back to smash the Millikin Big Blue in the second-half. 

In the third quarter, the Titans added 18 points to the scoreboard, later posting 15 in the fourth for a second-half total of 33 points. 

Scoring 33 points in the second-half is no easy feat for any football team, but senior quarterback Johnny Dicanio and offense made it look easy. 

“In the locker room at halftime, our coaches helped us find the motivation to turn the game around. We went into the second-half focused and determined to win,” Dicanio said. 

Dicanio generated a total of 368 yards of offense, throwing for 300 while picking up 68 on his feet. 

The senior quarterback’s efforts earned him CCIW Offensive Player of the Week honors. This was the first time he received the award. 

Winning the toss, Millikin deferred to the Titans who chose to receive. The opening kickoff was caught by Welsey Watson (fr.), returned to IWU’s 30 yard line. 

Because of their shaky first drive, fans wouldn’t have guessed that the team would go on to post a 40 point game. Turning the ball over in a minute, IWU went three-and-out, their opening drive totaling a measly 8 yards. 

Soon after, Millikin marched down the field and punched the ball into the endzone on a three play, 59 yard drive. 

Big Blue’s kicker shanked the extra point, as Millikin lead 6-0 with 13 minutes remaining. 

The Titans responded with a touchdown of their own on a 64 yard drive. Three consecutive completions and a 22 yard rush landed IWU in the endzone. 

Unlike the Big Blue, freshman kicker Andrew Stange sent his extra-point through the uprights, 7-6 IWU with 9:12 in the first remaining. 

Millikin scored once more in the first half, as the Titans trailed 13-7 going into halftime. 

This would be the second and last time the Big Blue scored. In the second-half, the Titans crushed any hope Millikin had of winning.

What was a stellar second-half for Dicanio can be credited to his repertoire of outstanding receivers. Among them is senior receiver Zack Walsh. 

Walsh lead his team in receiving yards and receptions, snagging six catches for a total of 87 yards. 

The Titans scored in three of their four third quarter possessions, 25-12 IWU going into the fourth. 

“After the third quarter, we could tell we had Millikin on the ropes. Their offense was struggling to produce and their defense was nowhere to be seen,” senior kicker Patrick Tata said. 

The defensive efforts of the Titans were among their best, as they tallied four interceptions, the second highest single-game total in school history. 

Struggling to throw the ball, Millikin had no choice but to run it, failing miserably in their attempts. 

Seniors David Lux and Jake Kapp lead their team in tackles, tallying five a-piece. Lux, Kapp and the rest of the Titan defense held Millikin to a dreadful 49 yard rushing total, while the Titans had 112. 

The Titans will hit the road to play North Central College Cardinals this Saturday (Naperville, Ill.). 

The Cardinals are ranked as the sixth-best division three football team in the nation, but the Titan football team has never been known to shy away from a challenge. 

“We’ve come too far and worked too hard to let one slip against North Central. In preparation for Saturday, our focus in practice will be razor-sharp,” Dicanio said.