In a 63-0 blowout, the Taylor football team added another win in a year of much change against conference foe Madonna.
Looking to build off a strong performance against then No. 5 ranked Concordia, the Trojans came out strong, scoring touchdowns on their first three drives. Freshman Jacob Cleaver ran in two of those with sophomore Stephen Ellis running in the other touchdown.
Interceptions by sophomore Hojun Yun, junior Collin Woolford and junior Evan Kitt stopped Madonna from adding points on the board in the first half. Woolford also led the team in pass breakups with two.
Senior Rylan Arihood rounded out the scoring for the Trojans with a rushing touchdown giving them a 28-0 lead heading into halftime.
In the second half, Taylor continued to dominate with Ellis scoring another rushing touchdown, his second of the day, on Taylor’s first drive. He would run another touchdown in for his third and final of the day to make it 42-0.
On Madonna’s next drive, there was yet another interception by the Trojan defense, this time by sophomore Reid Wheeler. He would find the endzone on the return to make it 49-0.
“We found a way to get the ball or stop them on loss of downs,” Wheeler said.
Arihood would finish out the scoring with two rushing touchdowns to give him three on the day to make it 63-0.
It was the largest margin of victory for Taylor since 1963, 48 years ago, where the Trojans beat Hanover 68-0.
The running game worked wonders for the second week in a row with 318 yards. Ellis had 79 yards, Cleaver had 76 yards and Arihood had 70 yards.
“We are just getting more and more comfortable with the option,” Arihood said.
The Trojans also succeeded in the air with 119 yards passing. It is the most yards passing since the third game of the year against Olivet Nazarene. Senior Zac Saltzgaber was efficient, completing 12 of his 15 passes. The offensive line did well to protect him, only allowing one sack. Freshman Dakohta Sonnichsen led the team in receiving with 35 yards on two catches. Another freshman, Reid Gerig had 33 yards on three catches.
Efficiency in the red zone was another key reason for the success. Eight trips to the red zone resulted in eight touchdowns. Junior Zane Shilts knocked in all nine of his extra point attempts.
Woolford and sophomore Aven Jones led the Trojans in tackles with 10 each on the day. Freshman Parker Whitby put in an impressive performance with two sacks and a forced fumble. Junior Matt Wheeler added another 1.5 sacks.
It was the first shutout for the defense this season as they allowed a mere 16 rushing yards on 22 attempts for Madonna and held Madonna to 4 for 20 on third down.
Looking ahead, the Trojans have county rival Indiana Wesleyan next who is No. 7 in the nation.
“Taylor can’t beat Taylor,” Head Coach Aaron Mingo said is one of the keys to beating them.
They will look to bring the party and beat their rivals for the first time since 2018.