MOUNT PLEASANT – Iowa Wesleyan College is in a very welcome position this week, as the Tigers go into their game against the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point fresh off of their first victory in two seasons.
The Tigers will take on the Pointers on the road at 1 pm Saturday afternoon at Goerke Field. IWC routed Waldorf College 41-0 last week, snapping a 20-game losing streak with a complete performance, the type the team struggled to put together last year and a performance of the type IWC hasn’t seen in some time.
Senior quarterback Bryan Abihider (Hemet, Calif.), making just his second collegiate start, threw for 286 yards and five touchdowns, receiving Mid-States Football Association Midwest League Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance. Sophomore receiver Lawrence Moore (Country Club Hills, Ill.) also had a huge game, catching eight passes for 136 yards and four touchdowns, while Jaren Maybin (Jr.-Baltimore, Md.) kept Waldorf honest by carrying the ball 20 times for 96 yards. Defensively, the Tigers held Waldorf to just 188 yards of total offense and limited the Warriors to just 49 yards passing.
The good feelings generated by the win will be tested this week against Stevens Point, a very strong NCAA Division III program which walloped the Tigers last year by 41 points. The Pointers run a spread offense that features a lot of power running, along with a 4-3 defense that IWC Head Coach Jason Smelser says is the strength of their team.
“They’re really, really good on defense,” Smelser said. “They play very fast.”
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT – Wisconsin-Stevens Point comes from the very tough Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, a league up of eight public universities in that state and a conference annually among the tops in the country in NCAA Division III.
UWSP squeezed past NAIA member Webber International (Fla.) 23-21 in its opener. The Pointers led 9-7 entering the final quarter, scored two touchdowns in an 18-second span, then held on after the Warriors scored two touchdowns late. Stevens Point gained just 177 yards on offense but allowed just 253 and took advantage of four Webber International turnovers.
The Pointers finished 6-4 last year, losing their last four games after a 6-0 start. Stevens Point’s fall coincided with a very difficult closing schedule but also an injury to star running back Mike Ferron. Ferron is back this season but did not play in the opener against Webber International. However, he is expected to start this week.
LAST MEETING – The Pointers jumped out to a 34-0 lead after one quarter on the way to a 54-13 win over the Tigers. IWC started off well, moving the ball down the field on its first drive and intercepting the Pointers on their first drive. The Tigers would commit four turnovers in the first quarter, though, in falling behind big early in the game. Stevens Point piled up 525 yards of total offense, including 314 yards on the ground. Artist Harris and Aaron Rozanski both picked up rushing touchdowns for the Tigers in the fourth quarter of the game.
Last year was just the second meeting ever between the Tigers and Pointers. UWSP won the first meeting between the schools in 1996 by a score of 53-13. This year’s meeting is the second game in a two-year series between the two teams.
MILESTONES – IWC reached a number of marks against Waldorf that the program hasn’t seen in some time. The Tigers had not scored 41 or more points in a game or won by at least 41 points since the 2002 season opener, a 59-14 win over Peru State. The shutout was also the first for the Tigers since a 13-0 win over Cornell College in 2005.
Individually, Moore’s four touchdown receptions were the second-most in school history, behind only the five TD catches Bruce Carter had in 1991 against Concordia (Wis.). Moore also had the first 100-yard receiving game for a Tiger since 2004, and his 136 yards receiving were the most for an IWC player since James Summerall totaled 188 yards receiving in 2002 against St. Francis, (Ind.).
As if that wasn’t enough, Abihider’s 286 yards passing was the most by a Tiger since Sheldon Cross threw for 339 yards in 2002 against St. Francis (Ind.). Saturday was also the first time a Tiger QB threw five TDs in a game since D. Bryant totaled that many in the 2002 win over Peru State.
FEW MISTAKES – Among the keys to last week’s win was the Tigers’ ability to play a very clean game. IWC turned the ball over only once and committed just three penalties. The offensive line also did its job keeping Abihider clean, allowing just one sack and only five plays total for negative yardage.
Several players came off the bench to make big plays as well. Second-string linebackers Dominique Richards (So.-Bronx, N.Y.) and Chris Owens (So.-Greer, S.C.) combined for nine tackles, including three in the backfield, while fellow reserve linebacker Carl Granum (Jr.-Brooklyn, N.Y.) had a big sack for an eight-yard loss early in the game. Offensively, Derrick Chambers (So.-Champaign, Ill.) came in and scored his first touchdown as a Tiger, while receiver/slot back Kelvin Brunson (So.-Vienna, Ga.) was second on the team after Moore with four catches for 32 yards.
TEAM AWARDS – The following players were honored by the coaching staff for their work during and leading up to the Waldorf game: Abihider and Moore (offensive players of the week), Jason Amy (Jr.-Lake Elsinore, Calif., special teams), Zach Ray (Fr.-Springfield, Ill., offensive scout team), and Blake Jones (Fr.-Lynnwood, Wash.) and Turon Thomas (Fr.-St. Louis, Mo., defensive scout team). The entire IWC defense was honored with defensive player of the week honors.
ON THE WEB – The IWC/UWSP game will be broadcast in central Wisconsin by WSPT 1010 AM and online at www.1010wspt.com. Fans can click the “Listen Live” link to catch the game. Pointers radio voice Scott Krueger will handle the play-by-play with Ken Kulick providing the color analysis.
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.
IWC-UWSP Game Notes