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September 29, 2012

20th-ranked Wheaton defeats Vikings 49-7

Junior running back Eric Chandler ran for 110 yards on 13 carries Saturday, but the Vikings fell to Wheaton 49-7 at Ericson Field.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill.-Sparked by a second-period quarterback change and taking advantage of six Augustana turnovers, 20th-ranked Wheaton handed the Vikings a 49-7 defeat Saturday at Ericson Field. The Thunder improves to 3-1, while Augustana falls to 1-3.

The Vikings overcame two first-quarter turnovers to forge a 7-0 lead after one period. Augustana coughed it up on each of its first two possessions, but the Viking defense responded by forcing Wheaton into a four-and-out and a three-and-out the first two times the Thunder had the ball. On Wheaton's first punt, John Draminksi (Wethersfield HS, Kewanee, Ill.) broke through and got a hand on Sam Cote's boot. The 13-yard kick that resulted set Augustana up with a first down at the Wheaton 40-yard line.

Quarterback Nick Welch (Oswego HS, Oswego, Ill.) hit Nick Krantz (Moline HS, Moline, Ill.) for 19 yards on first down and one play later, pitched to Krantz on a reverse and the junior took it in from 20 yards for the go-ahead score. Brady Rogers' (Cherokee Trail HS, Parker, Colo.) PAT put the Vikings up 7-0.

On the ensuing drive, Wheaton went from its own 25 to the Augustana three before junior linebacker Erik Westerberg (York HS, Elmhurst, Ill.) intercepted a deflected Garrett Meador pass in the end zone to keep the Thunder off the board. After forcing an Arnie Fitzwater (Union HS, Waterford, Wis.) punt, Wheaton put together another strong drive, going from its own 24 to the Viking 39. On third and one, Peter Jarrett broke off a 12-yard run, but Rob Mago (Cary-Grove HS, Cary, Ill.) stripped him from behind and Mike O'Donoghue (Mundelein HS, Mundelein, Ill.) fell on it to preserve the lead.

The tide immediately changed in the second quarter, however, when Thunder coach Mike Swider inserted Jordan Roberts at quarterback. After throwing an incompletion on his first play, he connected on his next 10 throws and Wheaton led 28-7 before he threw another. Roberts had touchdown passes of 37 yards to Morgan Cook and 35 yards to Charlie Velling and Jarrett had a four-yard touchdown run in the quarter. Linebacker Brett Anderson had a back-breaking 45-yard return of a Welch fumble that went for a touchdown as well. Roberts threw for 224 yards in the period and the Thunder took a 28-7 lead into the locker room.

Meador came back in for the third quarter, and last year's North Region Player of the Year led Wheaton on scoring drives of 75 and 71 yards on its first two second-half possessions. He capped the first march with a 15-yard scoring strike to Cook and the second with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Mark Hiben that made the score 42-7.

Roberts came back for one series in the fourth quarter and completed four straight passes for 45 yards before finishing off a nine-play, 48-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run. He finished the day 17 of 19 passing for 269 yards and two touchdowns. After a slow start, Meador completed 15 of 25 passes for 214 yards and two scores. The Viking defense held Wheaton to just 86 yards on 35 rushing attempts.

Augustana was led offensively by Eric Chandler (Cary-Grove HS, Cary, Ill.), who ran for 110 yards on 13 carries. Welch completed nine of 22 passes for 101 yards and was intercepted once.

The Vikings are on the road next week, traveling to Elmhurst to face the Bluejays in a 1:00 p.m. contest Langhorst Field.