MOUNT PLEASANT – Jarrod Mikel (Fr.-Houston, Texas) scored on a two-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds left and Iowa Wesleyan College won its second straight football game with a 30-24 win over Waldorf College at Mapleleaf Stadium in the Tigers’ Homecoming game.
IWC put together consecutive wins for the first time in 13 years and won its Homecoming game for the first time since 2005, improving to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in the Mid-States Football Association. Iowa Wesleyan also defeated the Warriors for the third straight year and dropped Waldorf to 1-4 overall, 0-2 in the MSFA Midwest.
The Tigers also scored the winning touchdown in the final minute of the game for the second straight week. A week after going 71 yards in the final three minutes to score the winning touchdown with 22 seconds left in the game, this time IWC went 59 yards in nine plays and again in the last three minutes for the tiebreaking score, with quarterback Kevin McConnell (So.-Kansas City, Mo.) once again leading the winning drive.
As they did a week ago, the Tigers mixed runs and passes on their final drive, and also took advantage of defensive penalties. McConnell completed all five of his passes on the drive, including key throws for first downs to freshmen Leondre Washington (St. Louis, Mo.), Chase Tackett (Camarillo, Calif.) and Marc Ballatori (Tequesta, Fla.). Washington started the drive with a nine-yard reception, and Tackett reached back for a 13-yard reception over the middle on a 2nd and 12 play to move the ball inside the Warriors’ 35.
Ballatori also had an eight-yard reception to the 24-yard line that ended with a personal foul against Waldorf for hitting him late out of bounds, moving the ball to the 12. Three plays later, LiMichael Peeples (Fr.-Conyers, Ga.) was interfered with in the end zone on third down, giving IWC first-and-goal at the 2. Mikel drove in behind the left side of the line on the next play for the winning score.
Wesleyan emerged from a back-and-forth game with 20 points in the second half and overcame two first half turnovers. Mikel had a pair of touchdown runs in the second half, also scoring on a three-yard run with 7:09 left in the third quarter that gave the Tigers a 17-14 lead.
IWC would not trail again, but also never could shake the Warriors. Following Mikel’s first touchdown, Waldorf tied the game with a 27-yard field goal by Caleb Maki late in the third quarter. The Tigers answered, though, with a nine-play, 54-yard drive that McConnell capped with a seven-yard touchdown run on a quarterback draw up the middle.
Wesleyan looked good to keep that lead the rest of the way, driving again midway through the fourth quarter before getting stopped on fourth down near midfield with just over six minutes left. Waldorf then went 48 yards in eight plays with Harold Smith scoring from 12 yards out to tie the game with 3:08 left.
The Tigers scored first in the game, going 66 yards on eight plays on their opening drive with McConnell hitting Tackett for a 15-yard touchdown pass just over four minutes into the game, but would fall behind after a pair of touchdown drives by Waldorf.
The Warriors wasted no time answering IWC’s first score, using a trick play that resulted in quarterback Roc Hobbs hitting a wide open Luke Gassman well behind the Tiger secondary for a 63-yard touchdown pass. Later in the quarter Waldorf took advantage of an interception of McConnell deep in Warrior territory, finishing an eight-play drive with a James Loydd touchdown early in the second quarter.
Wesleyan would eventually get a field goal just before halftime, as Kris Dolinsky (Fr.-Fishers, Ind.) made a 37-yarder with 28 seconds left in the half to make it 14-10. Incidentally, Dolinsky’s extra point attempt on IWC’s touchdown in the game’s final seconds was blocked, but after a long kickoff return the Tigers denied three pass attempts by the Warriors in the final 18 seconds to seal the win.
McConnell finished completing 30 of 43 passes for 319 yards, the most yards passing in a game by a Tiger quarterback since 2002. Greg Fields (Sr.-St. Louis, Mo.) caught eight of his passes for 54 yards, while Lawrence Moore (Sr.-Country Club Hills, Ill.) added seven catches for 50 yards. Tackett and Ballatori both also added six catches, with Ballatori totaling 124 yards and Tackett adding 73 yards receiving.
Mike Tupai (Jr.-San Francisco, Calif.) and Chris Owens (Sr.-Greer, S.C.) both had nine tackles to lead the Tiger defense. Tarvis Gordon (So.-Sanford, Fla.) and Darious Watson (Sr.-Bellwood, Ill.) both added seven tackles and combined for 3 1/2 tackles for loss, and Richard Silva (So.-Kirkland, Wash.) also added six tackles. Wesleyan recovered two turnovers in the game, including a fumble recovery by Tupai and an interception by Kerry Hartley (Fr.-Lithonia, Ga.).
IWC last won two in a row when it defeated Urbana (Ohio) University and St. Xavier (Ill.) University in October in 1997. The Tigers last won on Homecoming on Oct. 8, 2005, a 24-17 win over Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) University.
Iowa Wesleyan now gets ready to face rival William Penn University next week with another MSFA Midwest League home game at 6 p.m. at Mapleleaf Stadium. Penn enters next week’s game with a 5-0 record and is currently ranked 16th in the NAIA top 25 coaches’ poll.
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 IWC 30 Waldorf 24