Statesmen Drop Home Opener to #5 St. Francis (Ind.) 31-13
Oskaloosa–It what was billed as a heavyweight matchup, and for much of the afternoon it was, but in the end the visiting Cougars of #5 St. Francis (Ind.) pulled away from #16 William Penn 31-13 in a Mid-States Football Association crossover game Saturday.
The Statesmen (1-1), who remain winless in the all-time series (0-6), stuck with the Cougars until late despite a 549-199 edge in total yards for USF.
St. Francis (1-0) took the opening kickoff and marched right the gridiron for a touchdown, but the navy and gold answered back with great help from a 46-yard kickoff return by Chris Crawford (Sr., Muskegon, Mich., Digital Communications). The offense sputtered, but picked up enough yardage to get inside the range of Marcus Kerrigan (Sr., Cary, Ill., Sociology) who cut the margin to 7-3 with a 49-yard field goal.
The visitors moved the ball deep on their next possession, but failed to produce any points and William Penn trailed just 7-3 at the close of the first quarter.
Consecutive stalled drives ensued before WPU went 66 yards on 11 plays to take the lead with 5:39 left until halftime. Shawn Davis (Sr., Hamersville, Ohio, Physical Education) broke free and scored from 12 yards out to put the home squad up 10-7. Davis paced the offense with 67 rushing yards.
The lead did not last long as St. Francis responded with a 28-yard field goal of its own and the half concluded with the score knotted at 10-10. The Cougars outgained William Penn 249-122 at intermission.
Just like the start, the teams exchanged a WPU field goal for a USF touchdown. Kerrigan again knocked a lengthy three-pointer through, this time from 43 yards, putting the Statesmen up 13-10 with 10:20 left in the third stanza. The Cougars did not flinch, though, and tallied another score to lead for good at 17-13 entering the final quarter.
The fourth was unfortunately dominated by USF, highlighted by its defense which never allowed back-up quarterback Tyler Hafner (So., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Undecided) to settle into the game. Hafner replaced starter Taylor Parsons (Sr., The Woodlands, Texas, Sociology) who left with an injury late in the third quarter. The visitors scored twice to wrap up the victory.
Neither Parsons nor Hafner were unable to get a rarely-utilized passing game going by finishing a combined 3-for-10 for 27 yards. Aaron Broyles (Sr., Escondido, Calif., Physical Education) caught both of Parson’s passes for 21 yards.
The kick return game was one of the few bright spots for the hosts with Freddy Griggs (Jr., Tallahassee, Fla., Business Management) and Jacob Batterson (Sr., Eddyville, Iowa, Industrial Technology) joining Crawford with long runbacks. Griggs went 41 yards with one return and Batterson clicked off 40 yards on his lone attempt.
Defensively, linebackers Brock Peery (Sr., Payson, Utah, Secondary Education) and Isaac Samek (So., Bolivar, Mo., Industrial Technology) led the way with 12 tackles apiece. Nick DiMarco (Jr., St. Charles, Mo., Physical Education) recorded the lone WPU sack.
“This was a game of momentum and unfortunately we lost that momentum during the fourth quarter,” Head Coach Todd Hafner said. “They took advantage of their opportunities and made some big plays and we missed some chances of our own.”
“This will be a learning experience for our kids,” Hafner added. “We will get back to work tomorrow and correct our mistakes and get ready for next week.”
Next: William Penn travels to Kirksville, Mo. next Saturday to face NCAA Division II Truman at 7 p.m.