MOUNT PLEASANT – Fresh off of nearly taking down the Mid-States Football Association Midwest League leaders, the Iowa Wesleyan College football team takes another shot at its first league win of the season when it faces Trinity International University Saturday afternoon at Leslie Frazier Field in Deerfield, Ill.
The Tigers statistically dominated Quincy University last week, but the Hawks were the more opportunistic team and defeated IWC 35-28 at Evans Field. Wesleyan had a 517-302 edge in total offense, but Quincy scored 22 points in the third quarter and scored two touchdowns of 65+ yards. That was enough to stave off a Tiger rally in the fourth quarter which saw IWC score 15 straight points late in the game and have a chance for a tying drive before QU recovered an onside kick in the final minute.
Against the Hawks IWC’s offense continued to reach marks not seen by the program in some time. Lawrence Moore (So.-Country Club Hills, Ill.)’s 188 yards receiving and Bryan Abihider (Sr.-Hemet, Calif.)’s 318 yards passing were both the most by a Tiger individual since 2002, and Moore finished just 28 yards shy of the school record for receiving yards in a single game.
IWC will attempt to get over the hump this week and stay out of the MSFA Midwest cellar when it faces Trinity International. The Trojans are the other team winless in league play and the numbers aren’t pretty, with TIU getting outscored by an average of 29 points per game. However, the Trojans have caused problems for league opponents, moving the ball well with their spread offense against William Penn in a close loss. TIU also defeated IWC last season in league play, and the Trojans’ 4-3 defense this year has forced 17 fumbles and recovered 12, tied for tops in the MSFA.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT – Trinity International has struggled against a difficult schedule, losing six of its first seven. Mike Gims took over as the team’s head coach late in the summer and was dealt an early season that has had few light touches. The Trojans have proven they can be dangerous, though, very nearly winning their MSFA Midwest opener against William Penn. TIU lost to the Statesmen 25-24, dropping a close decision to the team that last week knocked off nationally ranked St. Francis (Ill.).
Last week TIU lost to Olivet Nazarene 44-14. The Trojans had as many first downs as ONU (15) but threw five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
LAST MEETING – IWC took a third quarter lead after Travis Hollingshed returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, but the Trojans later returned an interception for a touchdown and posted a 17-14 win at Evans Field last year. Trinity International had the edge in most offensive categories, but the Tigers stayed in the game by limiting the visitors to four conversions in 20 third down attempts.
The Trojans lead the all-time series 11-2, winning the last eight meetings. The Tigers’ last win over TIU came in the 1999 season, a 35-13 win in Mount Pleasant.
LIKE 1997 AGAIN – The Tigers’ offensive yardage outburst last week was the biggest by an IWC team in more than 11 years. The last time a Wesleyan team had more than 517 total yards from scrimmage was Oct. 11, 1997 in a 42-31 win over St. Xavier University. The Tigers gained 542 yards in that game, with Terry Taylor rushing for 181 yards and Wyatt Miller throwing for 331 yards and four touchdowns. For the season IWC is averaging 332.3 yards of offense per game. That is also the school’s highest total in that category since the 1997 team averaged 374.3 yards of offense a game.
GOOD MOVE – Moving Gerald Knighten (Jr.-Bellwood, Ill.) from wide receiver to defensive back has proven to be a prudent move by the Tiger coaching staff. Knighten, who led the team in receptions his first two years in the program as a wide receiver, switched to defensive back in the offseason and is currently leading the team and is tied for second in the MSFA in interceptions with four. He also is among the league leaders in passes defensed with seven.
The junior has three picks in the last two games, and last week he was lined up against Quincy star receiver James Bailey in a fierce matchup in which both players had their moments. Bailey, a transfer from NCAA Division I-A Indiana University, had two touchdown catches in the game, but Knighten also had two interceptions and another pass break-up.
ANOTHER GOOD MOVE – IWC is not the only team in this matchup who moved one of its top receivers from last year to the defensive backfield this year. TIU’s Brennan Smith had eight catches for 88 yards and a touchdown in last year’s meeting against the Tigers, but you won’t find him duplicating those numbers this year. Smith had 42 catches last season, second-most on the team, but this year he is playing on the other side of the ball. Smith is the team’s third-leading tackler with 38 tackles and also is tied for the team lead with two interceptions.
SURPRISE CONTRIBUTOR – Daryan Coleman (So.-Downers Grove, Ill.) came into last week’s game against Quincy with just one catch on the season, so he probably wasn’t one of the players expected to have two of the biggest catches of the night for the Tigers. By the end of the game, though, he had not only twice as many catches as he had in the previous six games (two) but also had the first two touchdown catches of his college career.
Coleman caught scores of six and five yards from Abihider, his only two catches of the night, and now has three catches on the season for 39 yards. All three of his catches have come in the last two games.
TEAM AWARDS – The IWC coaching staff presented awards to five players after last week’s win over Grand View. Offensive MVP-Abihider; defensive MVP-Darious Watson (Jr.-Bellwood, Ill.); special teams MVP-Scott Knipfer (Sr.-Cottage Grove, Wis.); offensive scout team MVP-Zach Ray (Fr.-Springfield, Ill.); and defensive scout team MVP-Richard Silva (Fr.-Kirkland, Wash.).
ON THE AIRWAVES – The IWC/Trinity International game will be available on a webstream via the Internet. The game will be available at http://broadcastmonsters.com/Amerisports/Trinity/trinity102508.asx.
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; email@example.com e-mail) or log on to IWC's athletics web site at www.iwc.edu/athletics.