MOUNT PLEASANT – Another heavyweight is on the schedule this week for the Iowa Wesleyan College football team as it faces Saint Xavier (Ill.) University on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Chicago.
The Tigers will be facing the #7 ranked team in the NAIA in what officially counts as a non-conference game for both teams. The Cougars are a member of the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League and this year Wesleyan drew SXU in one of its “crossover” games between Mideast and Midwest League teams.
IWC is coming off another poor offensive showing in a 31-0 loss to Quincy (Ill.) University last week on Wesleyan’s Homecoming. The Tigers had just 132 yards of offense, offsetting a solid effort by the Wesleyan defense, and the Hawks scored 21 points in the second half to break open a game that was close at the half.
Saint Xavier won its eighth straight game last week when it routed Malone (Ohio) 66-31. The Cougars scored 42 points in the first quarter, taking the lead on the first play from scrimmage and never looking back. Seven different players scored touchdowns and in addition to a dominating offensive performance SXU also scored on a blocked punt recovered in the end zone and on an interception return.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT – Saint Xavier has been very simply one of the hottest offenses in the NAIA this season. The Cougars are averaging 529.6 yards and 49.6 points per game, ranking fourth in the NAIA in both categories. The team’s 343.6 yards passing per game also ranks third in the nation, and the Cougars have topped 50 points in a game six times in eight games this year.
Quarterback Anthony Kropp runs the Cougars’ spread offense and is currently fourth in the NAIA in passing yards per game. He also leads the NAIA with 29 touchdown passes. SXU’s top receiver is Mike Maher, who is second in the NAIA in receiving yards with 872 yards through eight games. The Cougars have actually run the ball more than throwing over the course of their games and average 193.5 yards a game on the ground.
Defensively the Cougars also have been strong, ranking among the top 15 nationally in many categories. A run defense allowing 88.6 yards per game ranks second in the MSFA, and the 20 turnovers forced by St. X ranks third in the MSFA. Linebacker Mike Lally and defensive end Corey Smith have combined for 25 tackles for loss this year, and Smith has six sacks on the season.
SERIES HISTORY – Iowa Wesleyan and Saint Xavier are meeting for the 12th time, with SXU coming into Saturday’s game with an 8-3 advantage in the series. The Cougars won the last meeting in 2006, 45-7 in Mount Pleasant. The Cougars have won the last eight meetings between the two schools, with Wesleyan’s last win coming Oct. 3, 1998 when it defeated St. X at home by a 34-29 score. Terry Taylor rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns and Ben Ballard had two interceptions as the Tiger defense forced seven turnovers.
ON THE PLUS SIDE – Among the positives from last week against Quincy, the Tigers tied a season high with eight tackles for loss against the Hawks. Scott Baldwin (Sr.-Penn Valley, Calif.) had a pair of TFL’s and Matthew Palmer-Newton (So.-Camarillo, Calif.) had his team-leading third sack of the season. Linebacker Chris Owens (Jr.-Greer, S.C.) had his second straight game with 10 tackles or more, and defensive tackle Richard Silva (Fr.-Kirkland, Wash.) also had his first career interception against Quincy. Offensively, Lawrence Moore (Jr.-Country Club Hills, Ill.) had 59 yards receiving on six catches, his best game since the season opener against Trinity International. Transfer running back Spencer Stout (Jr.-Sigourney, Iowa) also had his first career reception at IWC, a catch for seven yards out of the backfield in the first quarter.
QUARTERBACK PLAY – Last week saw the return of T.J. Tolliver (Jr.-Bellwood, Ill.) at the quarterback position for IWC. Tolliver started the season as the starter before a leg injury put him on the shelf for several weeks while freshman Kevin McConnell (Kansas City, Mo.) took over. When he returned to health Tolliver eventually started seeing some time as a wide receiver while McConnell started the past five games, including last week against Quincy. But with the offense struggling last week, Tolliver came on for parts of the second half and passed for 107 yards. Included were passes of 32 yards to Bayquon McDonald (Sr.-Bronx, N.Y.), 24 yards to Moore, and 21 yards to Greg Fields (Sr.-St. Louis, Mo.), including a pair of passes completed when Tolliver lined up as a receiver and got the ball on a reverse before throwing downfield. This week McConnell is again listed as the starter on the depth chart.
SHORT FIELD – By now it’s been little secret that the Tigers’ opponents have benefited significantly from field position this year, but last week’s game against Quincy helped illustrate just how much of a difference it has made. The Hawks started their average drive at their own 45-yard line, a full 20 yards better than the average start for an IWC drive in the game. Four of Quincy’s five scoring drives were 49 yards or less.
Tiger opponents have now averaged starting field position of their own 36-yard line or better in IWC’s last seven games, including the 42-yard line or better in four of those seven. By comparison, Wesleyan has averaged starting at its own 28-yard line or worse in five of those seven games and no better than the 35-yard line in any of them.
ON THE AIRWAVES – Iowa Wesleyan College will be broadcasting online again for Saturday’s game. An online broadcast will be available at www.iwc.edu/onlinemedia. IWC football redshirt Kenrick Lawson (Jr.-Brooklyn, N.Y.) will be calling the game. The game will also be broadcast online by Saint Xavier University campus station WXAV 88.3 FM. A Web stream of that broadcast also will be available at www.wxav.com.
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-St. Xavier Complete Game Notes