MOUNT PLEASANT – Iowa Wesleyan College has one final chance to defeat one of the Mid-States Football Association Midwest League leaders when it faces McKendree University Saturday afternoon in the Tigers’ season finale.
The Tigers’ ten seniors will play their final games in an IWC uniform, and the team will be looking for an improved effort after a 35-13 loss to William Penn last week. The Tigers fell behind 28-0 in the first half, forced some turnovers in the second half to ignite a run to get within two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter, but could get no closer the rest of the way.
The Tigers once again moved the ball much of the day but finished few drives. IWC was inside Penn territory on nine of its 10 drives but scored just two touchdowns in the game.
This week the Tigers face McKendree University, the third straight year the two teams have completed their seasons by playing each other. If IWC wants to defeat the Bearcats, it is going to have to slow down the run like it did in the second half against William Penn, not the first half. The Statesmen gained 397 yards rushing, including 306 in the first half.
McKendree has thrown the ball a total of 43 times over its past five games and is leading the MSFA in rush offense. The Bearcat defense plays from a 4-3 unit and is fourth in the MSFA in rush defense. McKendree also some of the best special teams in the league but has struggled with turnover margin, as its -9 in that category is second-to-last in the league.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT – McKendree switched to a spread offense before the season, but after poor results went back to its traditional Wing-T. The Bearcats started the year off 1-3 but since have won four of their last five, with the only loss by a field goal to William Penn.
Head Coach Carl Poelker has captained the McKendree program since the school resumed football in 1996 after a 46-year absence from the sport. Poelker has won 93 games since 1996 and has traditionally had teams rated among the nation’s leaders rushing.
LAST MEETING – McKendree defeated IWC 35-0 in the season finale for both teams last year. George Smith rushed for 206 yards and scored touchdowns of 54 and 49 yards on his way to a school-record four touchdowns. Jermaine Paul (So.-Houston, Texas) led the Tigers with 125 yards rushing, while Ashton Smiley had 16 tackles and James Fisher added 14 tackles each.
The Tigers are winless versus McKendree since the series began in 1998. The Bearcats hold a 10-0 series lead and have posted shutouts the past three years.
FOR THE BOOKS – Lawrence Moore (Jr.-Country Club Hills, Ill.)’s season catching the football for the Tigers is going to go down as one of the finest in school history. Going into the finale against McKendree, Moore has 964 yards receiving, the fourth-highest total in school history. With 36 yards receiving against the Bearcats he will become just the fourth player in IWC history with 1,000 yards receiving in a season and the first since Bruce Carter in 1991.
Jaren Maybin (Jr.-Baltimore, Md.) also comes into the final game of the season needing 78 yards rushing to break the 1,000-yard mark. The junior would become just the sixth player in Wesleyan history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first since Mickell Harrell gained 1,007 yards in 2005.
Finally, Bryan Abihider (Sr.-Hemet, Calif.) needs 49 yards against McKendree to reach 2,000 yards passing this season. He would become just the eighth player in IWC history to pass for 2,000 yards, and his passing total this year is already the highest by a Tiger player since Wyatt Miller threw for 2,426 yards in 1998.
TURNOVERS – Both the Tigers and Bearcats have struggled with turnover margin this year. IWC is tied for 12th in the league with a -7 turnover margin, while the Bearcats as mentioned are 14th of 15 teams in the league statistics. McKendree has lost 17 fumbles on the season, which may be good news for the Tigers. Iowa Wesleyan forced and recovered a pair of fumbles in the second half last week against William Penn. Alex Holmes (Fr.-San Diego, Calif.) forced and recovered one fumble deep in Statesmen territory, and Kris Fleming (Jr.-Chicago, Ill.) stripped a ball carrier later on with Scott Baldwin (Jr.-Penn Valley, Calif.) picking up his team-leading third fumble recovery of the season. Holmes is now tied for the MSFA season lead with three forced fumbles this year.
RUSHING ATTACK – McKendree has been well known for its rushing offense for years, but the Bearcats just recorded their first 100-yard rusher in a game last week when Tommy Gayfield rushed for 104 yards. The Bearcats have spread the ball around in their option offense this year, with five players rushing the ball at least 50 times and no player with as many as 100 carries.
NOT QUITE – How close are the Tigers to being better than their 3-7 mark? IWC lost one game by one point and another by seven points, but the team also has a chance to finish the season gaining more yards than its opponents over the course of the year. Wesleyan comes into the finale averaging not even one yard less per game than its opponents have this year. IWC has gained 339.8 yards per game to allowing 340.7 ypg. The Tigers have also run 65 more plays than their opponents, have held the ball on offense an average of 31:40 each game, and have seven more first downs than they’ve allowed (181 to 174).
TEAM AWARDS – The IWC coaching staff presented awards to the following players after last week’s game against William Penn: offense-Maybin; defense-Scott Knipfer (Sr.-Cottage Grove, Wis.); special teams-Paul; offensive scout team-Lamont Williams (Fr.-Hamlet, N.C.); and defensive scout team-Charles Thomas (Fr.-Fontana, Calif.).
ON THE AIRWAVES – A broadcast of the IWC/McKendree game will be available on the Internet via the McKendree athletics Website at http://media.mckendree.edu/athletics. Joe May and Kent Zimmerman will be calling the action for the McKendree broadcast.
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-McKendree Game Notes