MOUNT PLEASANT – Missing a number of golden opportunities in the first half, the Iowa Wesleyan College football team was eventually done in by a third quarter push by Trinity International (Ill.) University in a 16-6 loss in the season opener for both teams Saturday afternoon at Leslie Frazier Field.
The Tigers lost in the debut of new coach Kent Anderson, struggling to find consistency on offense throughout the game. Wesleyan was hampered by five turnovers and gained just 211 yards, with more than half of that total coming on two plays. IWC lost its season opener for the first time since 2007, while Trinity International opened with a win in the first game for its own new head coach Kirk Wherritt.
The Trojans scored 10 points in a span of 1:23 in the third quarter to take control after neither team scored in the first half. TIU first got on the board on a 20-yard field goal by freshman kicker Jason Owens just 2:26 into the second half. The field goal capped a five-play, 27-yard drive made possible after Trinity recovered a fumble by IWC’s Harrison Ballard (So.-Rockledge, Fla.) on the third play of the second half, a fumble coming after the Tigers had moved the ball from their own 22 to near midfield in just a few plays.
The Tigers quickly went three-and-out on their next possession, and Trinity International took over with good field position after a good punt return and a Wesleyan penalty gave the Trojans the ball at the IWC 34. TIU needed just two plays to go 34 yards, as quarterback Daniel Beals kept the ball on the option and raced 30 yards around right end for a touchdown to make it 10-0.
The Trojans continued to win the field position battle and would add another touchdown as Bryson Lewis barreled in from five yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 16-0 lead. Meanwhile, IWC was being held to 96 yards in the second half, with 52 of those coming late in the fourth quarter on one play as Kevin McConnell (So.-Kansas City, Mo.) hit freshman Marc Ballatori (Tequesta, Fla.) for a 52-yard pass down to the TIU one-yard line. Ballard inched in the final yard for his first touchdown, but the Tigers’ hopes were effectively ended when a two-point conversion fell incomplete and Trinity recovered the ensuing onside kick.
The loss was particularly frustrating in that Iowa Wesleyan had a number of chances to establish control in the first half. IWC was inside the Trojans’ five-yard line twice in the first half but came up with no points either time. The first chance came in the first quarter after several TIU penalties gave the Tigers first-and-goal from the 5, but Wesleyan was unable to advance further. Kris Dolinsky (Fr.-Fishers, Ind.) came on for a 22-yard field goal try, but his kick was blocked, keeping the game scoreless.
The Tigers were in business again in the second quarter after Ballard pushed the pile and then broke away from the pack and raced 55 yards all the way down to the TIU 3. On third-and-goal from the 1, though, starting quarterback Brett Brodersen (Visalia, Calif.) tried a quarterback sneak around left end and was stopped short. Twisting for the goal line, he then fumbled the ball away and the Trojans recovered to stop another IWC threat.
Brodersen struggled in his first start, completing 11 of 26 passes for 89 yards and two interceptions. McConnell came on in relief in the third quarter and completed seven of 13 passes for 81 yards and one interception.
Ballard rushed for 85 yards on 17 carries in his first start. Greg Fields (Sr.-St Louis, Mo.) led IWC receivers with five catches for 32 yards.
Cameron Jones (Jr.-O’Fallon, Ill.) led the Tiger defense with 11 tackles (10 solo) as well as two fumble recoveries. Chris Owens (Sr.-Greer, S.C.) added 10 tackles (9 solo) and 2 1/2 tackles for loss. Richard Silva (So.-Kirkland, Wash.) also had eight tackles.
Cole Bamberger led Trinity International with 20 rushes for 94 yards. Beals also rushed 15 times for 63 yards, and while he completed just 4 of 12 passes for 53 yards, three of his completions went for first downs. The Trojans finished with 260 yards of offense, including 188 yards on the ground.
Iowa Wesleyan now gets ready for its home opener on Saturday, the Old Threshers Bowl against Coe College. Game time at Mapleleaf Stadium will be 5 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on KILJ 105.5 FM.
For more information regarding the IWC football program or any of the Tiger athletic teams, contact sports information director Adam Glatczak (319-385-6306 phone; 319-385-6384 FAX; firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail) or log on to IWC's athletics Web site at www.iwc.edu/athletics.
Box score TIU 16 IWC 6