MOUNT PLEASANT – Saint Xavier (Ill.) University scored 49 points in the first half and Iowa Wesleyan College never got on track offensively in a 65-6 loss to the nationally ranked Cougars Saturday night at stormy Mapleleaf Stadium.
Saint Xavier, ranked third in the nation in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll, scored over 50 points for the sixth time in nine games and improved to 9-0 this season. The Tigers lost for the fifth time this season to a nationally ranked team, this time to a team from the Mideast League of the Mid-States Football Association, and dropped to 3-6 this year.
IWC was unable to defensively slow down the powerful Cougar attack, which came into the game leading the NAIA in passing. The Tigers routinely got Saint Xavier into third and fourth down situations but often did not get the stops, as the visitors converted 10 of 16 third down conversions and 3 of 4 tries on fourth down.
Wesleyan also had a rough night offensively and on special teams, unable to pick up a first down against the oft-blitzing Cougars until late in the second quarter on offense and committing three turnovers. The Tigers also lost the field position game most of the evening and gave up punt and interception returns for touchdowns.
A bad night for the Tigers was made worse by thunderstorms which twice disrupted the night’s events. The two teams were pulled off the field during warm-ups due to lightning, and the game started ten minutes behind schedule after an abbreviated warm-up. The game was then delayed by lightning again for one half hour with 2:50 left in the first quarter, right after the Cougars had scored on their third straight possession to start the game to take a 21-0 lead.
When Wesleyan was able to recover two turnovers in the first half it was unable to do anything with them. Mike Tupai (Jr.-San Francisco, Calif.) recovered a fumbled snap at the Cougars’ 42 late in the first quarter, but the Tigers turned the ball over four plays later on downs. IWC then stopped another drive when Warren Green (Fr.-Conyers, Ga.) intercepted SXU quarterback Anthony Kropp in the end zone, but penalties bogged down the ensuing drive and the Tigers went three-and-out before punting.
Saint Xavier would build on its 21-0 first quarter lead with 28 points in the second quarter, all coming in the final 8:26. Pat Geary returned a punt 43 yards for a touchdown to make it 42-0, and Kropp found Donnie Selby for a 10-yard touchdown with seven seconds left in the half for a final score before an abbreviated halftime break.
The Tigers fared better in the second half, holding the Cougars to a field goal in the third quarter and getting some offense going in the fourth quarter before heavy rains fell. Backup quarterback Brett Brodersen (So.-Visalia, Calif.) led a ten play, 58-yard drive that ended with him hitting Leondre Washington (Fr.-St. Louis, Mo.) for a nine-yard touchdown for IWC’s lone points of the game.
Kevin McConnell completed 14 of 32 passes for just 70 yards and was intercepted twice. Brodersen finished 5-for-9 for 53 yards and an interception as well. Lawrence Moore (Sr.-Country Club Hills, Ill.) led the Tigers with six receptions for 52 yards and also rushed five times for 43 yards, accounting for more than half of Wesleyan’s 163 yards of offense. Washington added five catches for 56 yards and Greg Fields (Sr.-St. Louis, Mo.) caught five passes for 26 yards.
Darious Watson (Sr.-Bellwood, Ill.) led a Tiger defense that spent a lot of time on the field, as the Cougars ran 80 plays to 56 for IWC. Watson had 12 tackles, while Tupai had eight and Chris Owens (Sr.-Greer, S.C.) and Kerry Hartley (Fr.-Lithonia, Ga.) added seven tackles each. Marlon Cross (So.-Chula Vista, Calif.) also added a career high seven tackles.
The Tigers come back to MSFA Midwest League play next Saturday against Grand View University. Game time at Williams Stadium in Des Moines will be 1 p.m.
Box score #3 St. X 65 IWC 6