JOLIET, ILL. – The University of St. Francis (Ill.) scored 28 points in the first half and made it hold up to defeat Iowa Wesleyan College 31-13 in a Mid-States Football Association Midwest League game Saturday night at Joliet Memorial Stadium.
The nationally ranked Fighting Saints, 22nd in the most recent National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics poll, made good use of their offensive possessions in the first half to even their MSFA Midwest record at 1-1 and improve to 5-1 overall. IWC dropped its second straight game, falling to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in league play.
The Tigers had their positives on both sides of the ball on the night, but were unable to put together a complete half with both sides excelling. The offense had the upper hand for the most part in the first half, while the defense stepped up in the second half, keeping IWC in the game by limiting the Saints to only a field goal in five possessions.
The Tiger offense was able to match the Saints for most of the first half, gaining 204 yards over the first 30 minutes and staying in the game with the pass. Quarterback Bryan Abihider (Sr.-Hemet, Calif.) threw for 172 yards in the first half, hooking up with Lawrence Moore (So.-Country Club Hills, Ill.) three times for 91 yards.
St. Francis scored a pair of touchdowns late in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead before IWC came back with a touchdown. The Tigers went 59 yards in nine plays, with T.J. Tolliver (So.-Bellwood, Ill.) scoring on a six-yard end around to make it 14-7.
The Saints and Tigers traded scores twice more late in the second quarter, but USF scored touchdowns on its drives while IWC was held to field goals. Twice the Tigers drove inside the Saints’ 20-yard line with drives ended by Scott Knipfer (Sr.-Cottage Grove, Wis.) converting field goal attempts, the second one a 31-yarder that made it 28-13 just before halftime.
St. Francis drove down on its first drive of the second half and looked ready to score again, but Gerald Knighten (Jr.-Bellwood, Ill.) intercepted USF quarterback John Goolsby at the IWC three-yard line to stop the drive. The Tigers then drove 59 yards in 14 plays, but the drive stalled out and ended on downs.
After the teams traded punts, the Fighting Saints went ahead by three scores, capping a 17-play, 70-yard drive with a field goal to make it 31-13 with 5:53 left in the game. IWC had two more chances on offense and got off to good starts on both of its final two drives, but then got pushed backwards and netted only nine yards on the two drives
Abihider finished with 211 yards passing, completing 19 of 36 passes. He was sacked five times, three times in the second half when IWC was held to 90 yards of offense. Moore finished with six catches for 115 yards, his second 100-yard receiving game of the season, while Greg Fields (So.-St. Louis, Mo.) added six catches for 24 yards. The Tigers have typically done a good job on third downs this season but converted just three of 16 third downs
Knipfer and Kyle DeRossett (Sr.-Dupo, Ill.) both had nine tackles to lead the defense, while Darious Watson (Jr.-Bellwood, Ill.) and Jerry Wimes (Sr.-Mount Dora, Fla.) both added seven tackles each. St. Francis gained 436 yards of offense, including 251 yards in the first half. USF also rushed for 228 yards.
The Tigers are home again next week for another evening start and their second home night game of the season. IWC hosts Quincy University Saturday night at Evans Field at 6 p.m.
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.