For one half Saturday afternoon, the Carthage football team at least maintained contact with powerful Wheaton.
But the Thunder, ranked No. 4 in the latest D3football.com poll, are just too talented.
Carthage hung in through the first half, trailing 20-0 in a College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin game at McCully Stadium in Wheaton, Ill., but the Thunder scored 21 points in the third quarter to pull away for a 55-6 victory.
The Red Men (4-5 overall) dropped to 4-4 in the CCIW and will host Augustana on Saturday to wrap up their season.
The Thunder, meanwhile, moved to 9-0 overall and 8-0 in the conference after their 10th win over Carthage in the last 11 meetings. Wheaton leads North Central for first place by a game with one to play.
Wheaton rolled up 236 rushing yards to Carthage’s 62 and 483 total yards to Carthage’s 259.
Billy Dury went 12-of-28 passing for 129 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Red Men, Javone Stricker caught six passes for 65 yards, Jalen Dennis had three catches for 59 yards, Patrick Murphy hauled in five passes for 48 yards and a touchdown and Dana Fontenot led the rushing attack with 43 yards on 19 carries.
Dury’s 6-yard pass to Murphy with 5 seconds left in the game allowed Carthage to avoid being shut out by the Thunder, who have the top-ranked defense in the CCIW and entered Saturday allowing just eight points per game in conference play.
It was Dury’s second straight week with a touchdown pass and Murphy’s first touchdown catch of the season.
Defensively for the Red Men, Steven Shipp recorded two tackles for loss, while Galvin Hoopes led the team with nine total tackles.
Wheaton’s Luke Anthony went 16-of-27 passing for 211 yards and a touchdown.
The Thunder had five different players rush for at least 30 yards and four different players run for a touchdown, and Adam Terrini caught seven passes for 112 yards.