MOUNT PLEASANT – Iowa Wesleyan College and William Penn University spent an entire evening matching each other touchdown-for-touchdown, but it was the #15 ranked Statesmen who got a few more stops to hold on and defeat the Tigers, 56-41, in a wild Mid-States Football Association Midwest League game Saturday night at Mapleleaf Stadium.
IWC threw a serious scare into its rivals from Oskaloosa with a creative offense and continued superb play from quarterback Kevin McConnell (So.-Kansas City, Mo.). But the nationally ranked Statesmen had answers for every Tiger score and also recovered the only two turnovers of the game to move to 6-0 overall, 3-0 in the MSFA Midwest. Wesleyan saw its two-game win streak snapped and dropped to 2-5 overall, 2-2 in league play.
The Tigers and Statesmen both went up and down the field all night, combining for 1,021 yards of total offense. The two teams also combined for 49 points in the fourth quarter, and engaged in a game of ‘Can You Top This?’ in which both teams took turn hitting the other with big plays.
Neither team punted in a second half that saw nine straight drives end in touchdowns. Despite William Penn taking the lead in the second quarter and never trailing again, it wasn’t until an interception with 1:33 left in the game stopped an IWC drive that Penn finally was able to clinch its 11th straight win in the series between the two schools, who were meeting for the 66th time.
The Tigers got a 12-yard touchdown pass from McConnell to Greg Fields (Sr.-St. Louis, Mo.) with just over a minute remaining in the first half and trailed 21-14 at halftime. Penn drove down the field to start the second half, marching 80 yards in 12 plays with quarterback Taylor Parsons scoring from one yard out to make it 27-14.
The fireworks officially started on IWC’s first drive of the half. The Tigers drove down the field after the Statesmen score but faced 4th-and-9 from the Penn 30-yard line. Wesleyan lined up in a bunched rugby scrum-style formation and ran a version of the old ‘fumblerooskie’ play, with Jerkeem Jones (Fr.-St. Louis, Mo.) coming out of a mass of players with the ball and racing 27 yards down the sideline. McConnell would run it in on the next play and IWC trailed just 27-21 after three quarters.
William Penn drove down the field again and scored just over a minute into the fourth quarter on another short plunge by Parsons. The Tigers would come right back with the answer, though. After a good kickoff return by Warren Green (Fr.-Fairburn, Ga.) gave it good field position at its own 49, IWC reached into its bag of tricks again. Backup quarterback Brett Brodersen (So.-Visalia, Calif.) lined up out wide before coming around and taking a pitch from McConnell, and he threw a perfect strike to a wide open Ridge Hobbs (Fr.-New London, Iowa) for a 51-yard touchdown to make it 35-28.
Penn would answer just two plays later, though, as Dalton Phelps took off down the left sideline and outran the defense for an 81-yard touchdown to again give the Statesmen a two score lead. The Tigers then held serve with Lawrence Moore (Sr.-Country Club Hills, Ill.) catching a six-yard pass from McConnell for six points, though the extra point was blocked to make it 42-34.
The visitors struck quickly again, though, as P.J. Perry came out of the backfield and caught a 35-yard touchdown from Parsons to extrend the lead again. The Tigers answered yet again, though, as McConnell capped an eight-play, 72-yard drive with a one-yard run to make it 49-41.
The Statesmen responded quickly again, though, as Shawn Davis took a simple play up the middle, broke some tackles and ran 45 yards for a touchdown with 3:58 to play. That would stand as the final score, as IWC was driving again in the final minutes before McConnell was intercepted.
McConnell, the two-time defending MSFA Midwest League Offensive Player of the Week, had a huge dual threat game, completing 23 of 38 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns and also rushing 29 times for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Moore led Tiger receivers with 12 receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns, and the 100-yard receiving game was the seventh of his career. IWC finished the game with 446 yards of total offense.
The Statesmen and their top-ranked rushing offense in the NAIA lived up to billing, rushing for 472 yards as part of 575 yards of total offense. Parsons rushed for 118 yards and three scores, while three others rushed for at least 72 yards.
Wesleyan posted a 29-23 advantage in first downs and a 33:28-26:32 edge in time of possession, but William Penn averaged 9.4 yards per play and also was 2-for-2 on fourth downs. One of those conversions came in the second quarter on 4th-and-15, when Perry got behind his defender for a 25-yard reception, eventually leading to the Statesmen’s third touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
William Penn now leads the all-time series between the two schools 35-25-6. The 96 points scored in the game was the second-most ever in a game between the two schools, trailing only the 1953 meeting between the two in which Iowa Wesleyan defeated William Penn, 103-0.
IWC next will hit the road to face Quincy (Ill.) University on Saturday in another MSFA Midwest game at 1 p.m.
Box score #15 WPU 56 IWC 41