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Wheaton eliminates MLC with 51-7 win

Information courtesy of MLC Athletics

WHEATON, Ill. — The Martin Luther College football team saw its season come to an end with a 51-7 defeat at number-three ranked Wheaton College in the first round of the NCAA Division III Championships on Saturday.

Ben Arndt got the Knights off to a strong start with an interception inside the MLC 10-yard line, but the Thunder forced a three-and-out and scored on their next two possessions to take a 10-0 lead after the first quarter.

Field position was an issue throughout the first half for the Knights, as Wheaton started six of its first seven possessions on the 50-yard line or in MLC territory. That field position paid dividends in the second quarter, as the Thunder scored in less than two minutes to push the lead to 24-0, and then capped a 14-play, 91-yard drive with a score in the final minute of the half to take a 31-0 lead into halftime.

After Wheaton scored on its opening possession of the second half, MLC was able to get on the scoreboard with a Joshuah Kren 44-yard touchdown run to pull within 37-7.

The Thunder scored once more late in the third quarter, and then added one final touchdown with 2:26 to play in the fourth period to secure the win and advance to round two.

The Knights knew they would have a tough challenge against the nation’s number-one defense. The Thunder had not allowed any opponent to rush for 100 yards this season, but MLC finished with 156 rushing yards in the game. Kren led the team with 67 yards, while Austin DeNoyer ran for 60 yards on 23 attempts. Kren also added a 40-yard reception for a total of 107 all-purpose yards.

The defense was put in tough situations throughout the game, but was able to force three turnovers and kept the Thunder from throwing it over the top of them for much of the day. Ian Paulsen led the defensive effort with 14 tackles. Abel Bain and Jacob Schmidt each recorded a sack. Nate Holz had 2.0 tackles for loss, while Dan Gensmer recovered two fumbles.

MLC finished the season with a 9-2 record, including its second consecutive 8-0 record in conference play.

Wheaton advanced to the second round with an 11-0 record.

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