MOUNT PLEASANT – Looking to win its fourth game in a season for the first time since 1997, Iowa Wesleyan College will have its work cut out when it faces powerful Saint Xavier (Ill.) University in a Mid-States Football Association crossover game at 6 p.m. at Mapleleaf Stadium.
The Tigers will likely have to pull another monster offensive game out of their pockets as they face the team ranked third in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll. Saint Xavier has scored at least 45 points in every game this year, has scored over 50 points five times and is averaging 52.6 points per game during its 8-0 start.
IWC is coming off an offensive outing that would compare favorably with the Cougars’ output, as the Tigers defeated Quincy 62-50 last week. Wesleyan scored 49 points in the first half, including 35 in the second quarter alone, and amassed 527 yards of total offense while the defense got just enough stops on a day in which offenses ran wild. Kevin McConnell (So.-Kansas City, Mo.) passed for 435 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for two more scores, and Lawrence Moore (Sr.-Country Club Hills, Ill.) caught seven passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. The Tigers challenged several school records set during the Hal Mumme years from 1989-91, and the 112 points IWC and Quincy combined for was the most by two teams in a game in school history.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT – Saint Xavier is a member of the MSFA Mideast League and is looking for its second straight undefeated regular season after going 11-0 last year. The Cougars eventually lost in the semifinals of the NAIA Playoffs, finishing 13-1 overall for the best mark in the school’s 17-year history of playing football. Head Coach Mike Feminis is in his 12th year at SXU and has a 97-39 record and is looking for his fifth MSFA Mideast title.
Saint Xavier features an offense as potent as any in the NAIA, particularly when it comes to passing the ball. The Cougars rank second in the nation in scoring and fourth in passing yards per game (337.6) despite frequently playing many reserves in the second half of games. The offense spreads it out and is led by the record-setting passing combination of Anthony Kropp to Mike Maher. Kropp has thrown for 2,401 yards and 35 touchdown passes so far this season, leading the NAIA in both categories. Maher has caught 68 passes for 849 yards and 13 touchdowns, and leads the country in receptions and is second in touchdown catches.
SERIES HISTORY – Saint Xavier holds a 9-3 lead in the all-time series with IWC. The Cougars won last year’s meeting 66-6, taking a 52-0 lead at halftime and tying a school record with eight sacks. The Tigers got their lone touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard fumble return by Eduardo Garcia (So.-San Diego, Calif.). SXU has won eight straight in the series, with Wesleyan’s last win coming Oct. 3, 1998, in a 34-29 win at Mapleleaf Stadium.
HISTORIC HEIGHTS ON OFFENSE – To illustrate how prolific the Iowa Wesleyan offense was last week, all one has to say is that several numbers against Quincy put up were not far off from school records set during the famous years when Mumme was the team’s head coach from 1989-91 and the Tigers gained national notoriety for their passing game which was one of the early precursors to today’s dominant spread offenses. McConnell’s 435 yards passing were the fifth-most in school history and the most by an IWC quarterback since Dustin Dewald threw for 454 yards on Nov. 9, 1991 against Concordia (Ill.). Dewald also set the school record Oct. 26, 1991, with 507 yards against Wayne State (Neb.). McConnell also accounted for a total of 480 yards of total offense against Quincy, which is the second-most in school history behind Dewald’s 507 yards against Wayne State.
Moore’s 198 yards receiving also is believed to be the second-highest total in a game in school history, behind Bruce Carter’s 216 yards receiving in 1991 against Wayne State. His three touchdown catches also ties for the third-most in a game in school history, though it is not a career high. Moore had four touchdown receptions Sept. 6, 2008 against Waldorf, just short of Carter’s record of five TD catches in 1991 against Concordia. Against Quincy the senior wideout also surpassed 2,000 yards receiving in his career, and his 2,023 yards currently ranks third in school history, 176 yards behind Marcus Washington’s school record.
OPPORTUNITIES ARISE – A rash of injuries, including season-ending ones to linebackers Cameron Jones (Jr.-O’Fallon, Mo.) and Matthew Palmer-Newton (Jr.-Camarillo, Calif.) and defensive end Jamarco Clark (Fr.-Conley, Ga.), resulted in a number of players seeing their first extended playing on defense last week. Sophomore linebackers Edward Amadi (Garland, Texas) and Marlon Cross (Chula Vista, Calif.) and freshmen Jimmy Lann (Vernon, Ala.) and Jeremy Schneden (Burlington, Iowa) all saw a number of snaps on the defense against Quincy, and several made their presence felt quickly. Cross had a pair of tackles in the game, while Amadi had a tackle and also recorded his first collegiate interception in the second quarter. The Tigers also came up with three big sacks on defense, including fourth quarter sacks by Tarvis Gordon (So.-Sanford, Fla.) and Kenrick Lawson (Jr.-Brooklyn, N.Y.) in the fourth quarter to help thwart Quincy drives.
CAN WE REPEAT HISTORY? – Going back to the history books one more time, the last time the Tigers gained more than the 527 yards they racked up last week against Quincy came...against Saint Xavier. The Tigers rolled up 542 yards on Oct. 11, 1997 in a 42-31 win over St. X, part of a three-game win streak for IWC at the start of the series between the two schools. The Cougars have won the last nine meetings between the two schools.
ON THE AIRWAVES – Saturday’s game will again be aired online from the IWC Web site at http://www.iwc.edu/onlinemedia, with IWC student Casey Mangold handling the play-by-play.
Complete IWC-St. X Game Notes