Murphy breaks 15-year sack record in beatdown win

By adviser Apr 16, 2021
Mike Murphy getting set pre-snap. Photo: Illinois Wesleyan University Athletics
Mike Murphy getting set pre-snap.
Photo: Illinois Wesleyan University Athletics

The Illinois Wesleyan Football team went on an offense and defensive blowout against North Park this past Saturday, April 10, 42-7. This was largely led by senior Mike Murphy and his record-breaking game.

Both the offense and defense had dominant performances. The offense for IWU had 388 total yards compared to North Parks 176, while the Titans defense held North Park’s run game to negative eight total rush yards.

“The Millikin game made everyone wake up. Since then, we have been maturing every week, and we have such a diversity of talent on both the offense and defense that is finally coming together. That talent showed this past week,” head coach Norm Eash said.

The Titans’ dominant defensive performance was headlined by senior Mike Murphy, who broke the total career sack record at IWU along with the single-game sack record. Murphy had eight tackles, six were for a loss and five were quarterback sacks. These five sacks added to his career total, which is now 25.5, which topped Michael Stephens’ previous record of 24.0, set in 2006.

“Murphy is an elite defensive lineman who showed he is one of the best if not the best in the CCIW from his 2019 season and only solidified his position with the performance of this past game,” Eash said.

Along with Murphy, the defense had strong performances from junior Robert Neidballa with eight tackles and senior Zach Mitchell with six tackles.

The game against North Park was also senior day, celebrating those graduating after this semester.

“This senior class is leaving behind a legacy of hard work and dedication. Most of the seniors are multi-year starters and are great leaders on and off the field. Through the many accomplishments they have succeeded in, they have motivated individuals on the team to keep working hard and never give up,” sophomore Seth Albin said.

 

In addition to the Titans’ strong defensive performance, the offense also had a dominating day led by sophomore running back Seth Albin, who rushed for a team-high 72yds and three touchdowns. 

“Even though this season has been difficult, I try to focus on the positive side of things. I’ve taken this shortened season into a time of personal improvement and focusing on becoming a better athlete. I believe having our fall season postponed into the spring helped me mentally prepare for what college ball is and the new speed of the game compared to high school,” Albin said.

In this shortened spring season, IWU has only four games on their schedule, and they currently have a record of 2-1, with wins coming from North Park and Augustana and the loss from Millikin.

“Our biggest conference competitors, Wheaton and North Central, both opted out of spring activities, so we have an advantage going into what we hope is a regular fall season. This challenging year has allowed our young players to develop and work into our system at IWU, which will benefit us greatly in the fall and keep us ahead of the competition,” Eash said.

IWU will be graduating 13 seniors this year but “have a record number of incoming first-years, which the entire coaching staff is excited about. We are losing a great group of leaders but gaining what could be a very impressive first-year class,” Eash said.

IWU is currently planning on having a regular 10 game season in the fall with hopes of both conference and national tournaments.

“I have been amazed by the team’s work ethic. They have worked harder than any team in the league and probably harder than most across the country. We have our eyes set on a CCIW title. I will tell the team in our end-of-the-year meeting, ‘if you stay, you will be champions,’ and I firmly believe that,” Eash said.

To round up this spring season, IWU will be on the road this Saturday, April 16, to play Elmhurst in a scrimmage.

By adviser

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