MOUNT PLEASANT – Iowa Wesleyan College won’t face any opponents tougher than the University of Tennessee-Martin team it played last week, but that doesn’t mean the schedule gets much easier as the Tigers take on the University of St. Francis (Ind.) on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Fort Wayne, Ind.
IWC will look to bounce back from a 56-0 loss last week to UT-Martin, a member of NCAA Division I-AA (known now as the Football Championship Subdivision). The Tiger defense kept the team in the game throughout the first half before the Skyhawks pulled away in the second half. The Wesleyan offense struggled with just three first downs in the game, and the lack of ball control contributed to a 74-49 advantage in plays run for UTM.
This week the Tigers will open an opponent’s season for the third straight week, as this is the opener for St. Francis, the #4 ranked team in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll. The Cougars are a power from the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League and are coming off a 12-win season last year. USF will have a new quarterback this season after the departure of starter Jeff Wedding but returns running back Daniel Carter, a 5-6 pinball of a runner who rushed for 20 touchdowns last year to rank second in the NAIA in scoring. The Cougars ranked second in the nation in scoring offense and third in the country in scoring defense last year, but defensively St. Francis returns just four starters and will breaking in a number of new faces.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT – Though a young program that is entering just its 12th year of competition, St. Francis is one of the perennial powers in the NAIA, having been ranked for 119 consecutive weeks in the NAIA coaches’ poll. That is the longest active streak in the country and dates back to Oct. 19, 1999. The Cougars have been to the NAIA playoffs ten straight years and missed the playoffs only in their first season of play in 1998. St. Francis also has won nine MSFA Mideast League championships and has a 114-23 record in 11 years of playing football.
USF finished 12-1 last season, winning its first 12 games before being defeated in the NAIA playoffs semifinals by eventual champion Sioux Falls. Kevin Donley has coached the Cougar program since its inception and has averaged more than 10 wins a year. USF lists its offense as the Run & Shoot, an offense that was a precursor to many of the spread offenses that are so popular today. Shaine Tierney is the new quarterback for the Cougars but received plenty of experience last year, getting into 10 games as a backup last year and throwing 53 passes. Defensively, St. Francis lists a 4-4 defense as its base front, but on both sides of the ball the Cougars will vary their fronts and formations, including formations featuring a tight end on offense and an extra safety on defense.
SERIES HISTORY – IWC and St. Francis last met on Sept. 25, 2004, a 62-8 win for the Cougars. The two teams are meeting for the sixth time overall, with USF currently hold a 4-1 lead in the series. Wesleyan’s lone win in the series came in the first meeting between the schools, when IWC defeated St. Francis 41-35 in a game in Fort Wayne on Nov. 14, 1998. Phillip Betts ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns in that game.
UT-MARTIN BRIGHT SPOTS – There were relatively few easily visible performances to highlight from the game against Tennessee-Martin last week, but the Tiger defense did produce several solid individual efforts. Safety Darious Watson tied a career high with 12 tackles, while Dominique Richards added seven tackles and also broke up two passes. True freshman Deevonte Browning also had six tackles in his second collegiate game, while the other starting safety, Charles Thomas, also had a pair of big plays in the first quarter. Thomas first intercepted a pass on UTM’s second drive, returning the ball 25 yards into Skyhawks’ territory. He then later recovered a fumble deep in Skyhawks’ territory, which gave the Tigers the first good scoring chance of the game for either team before Josh Feliciano missed a 42-yard field goal.
MULTIPLE RECEIVING THREATS – St. Francis did not have a receiver catch more than 50 passes or gain more than 750 yards receiving last year, but the Cougar quarterbacks did a terrific job spreading the ball around in 2008. Seven different receivers caught between 16 and 39 passes last year for St. Francis, while five more caught at least six passes. In all, a total of 21 different players caught passes last year for USF.
TOUGH WEEK FOR MSFA MIDWEST TEAMS VS. BIGGIES – The Tigers were far from the only MSFA Midwest League team to struggle last week against a I-AA/FCS team. In fact, by comparison’s sake, IWC actually performed quite well in its game against a team just outside the I-AA top 25. William Penn faced South Dakota on Thursday night and trailed 31-0 at halftime en route to losing 52-0 to the Coyotes, a school still in the transitional process from NCAA Division II to I-AA. Also, Quincy University was unable to follow up its season opening win against Indiana State and lost to SE Missouri State, 72-3. The Hawks trailed 58-0 at halftime to SEMO, a team picked to finish tied for seventh in the Ohio Valley Conference of which UT-Martin also is a member of.
ON THE AIRWAVES – Saturday’s game will be broadcast on WGL 1250 AM in Fort Wayne, Ind. An audio Web stream will also be available on the Internet through the USF Web site at http://www.saintfranciscougars.com/multimedia. Joe Parson will be handling the play-by-play with Phil Houk working as an analyst for the St. Francis broadcast. IWC will not be producing an audio broadcast of this week’s game as the school continues to work on refining its broadcasting capabilities. Iowa Wesleyan is hoping to be able to produce its own audio broadcast stream again by the next road game against Waldorf College on Oct. 3, if not sooner.
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.
Complete IWC-USF Game Notes