Statesmen Denied Upset of D-II Truman in Final Minute
Kirksville, Mo.–The William Penn football team did nearly everything necessary to claim victory Saturday night, but came up just short in a 24-23 setback to Truman.
The Statesmen (1-2), who have now lost back-to-back games for just the first time since October 2009, led by 13 points entering the final quarter. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs (2-1) scored early in the fourth and again in the final minute to rally for the win.
The visitors had issues early, falling into a 10-0 hole only 6:29 into the evening. William Penn marched quickly down the field in its second drive, however, going 73 yards on seven plays to narrow the deficit to 10-7 at the 4:43 mark in the first quarter. Evan Ressler (Jr., Cascade, Iowa, Biology), who led the navy and gold with 30 rushes for 164 yards, capped the possession by finding paydirt from seven yards out. WPU recorded 434 yards of offense, highlighted by 408 on the ground.
The defense then stepped as Nick DiMarco (Jr., St. Charles, Mo., Physical Education) recovered a fumble and returned it 15 yards to put the Statesmen ahead 14-10 after one period of play. The Statesmen forced two Bulldog fumbles and limited the hosts to just 259 yards of total offense.
Marcus Kerrigan (Sr., Cary, Ill., Sociology) had a pair of field-goal chances in the second quarter. He was not successful on his first try of 42 yards, but knocked a 36-yarder through the uprights to make it 17-10 as time expired in the first half. William Penn controlled the ball in the second quarter with an 11:11-3:49 edge in time of possession (35:25-24:35 total). Truman only ran seven plays in the second stanza.
A seven-play, 77-yard scoring drive opened the second half. The Statesmen extended their advantage to 23-10 when Tyler Hafner (So., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Undecided) connected with Clint Allen (Jr., Burleson, Texas, Physical Education) for an eight-yard scoring pass. The extra-point attempt was not converted, which would unfortunately be a critical lost point for WPU.
Hafner finished 3-for-8 passing for 19 yards, but was intercepted twice, including at the start of the fourth quarter. The pick set up a short field for the Bulldogs who cut the margin to six with 13:32 remaining in regulation.
Just over six minutes later, Kerrigan attempted to push the lead to nine points, but his 25-yarder sailed wide left, leaving the door open for Truman. Both squads did little in their next possessions, but Truman regained the advantage for the first time in over 50 minutes on a rushing score with 49 ticks left. The extra point was made, giving the Bulldogs a 24-23 edge.
William Penn, led by third-string quarterback Hunter Collins (So, Jenks, Okla., Undecided), moved the pigskin 20 yards from its 36 to the TU 44. That gave Kerrigan a final shot to be the hero, albeit an improbable one, with a 61-yarder with 17 seconds left. The kick unfortunately fell short and Truman escaped with the win.
Hafner also eclipsed the century mark with 113 rushing yards, while Shawn Davis (Sr., Hamersville, Ohio, Physical Education) posted 74 yards. Aaron Broyles (Sr., Escondido, Calif., Physical Education) caught four passes for 18 yards.
Isaac Samek (So., Bolivar, Mo., Industrial Technology) led the defensive effort with ten tackles and one sack, while John Land (Fr., Mission Viejo, Calif., Education) had nine stops and two sacks. DiMarco recovered two fumbles in the loss. William Penn sacked the Truman quarterbacks five times.
“We were as physical and played as hard as any team has,” Head Coach Todd Hafner said. “Again, we had plenty of opportunities to win the game, but just did not quite get it done. We have plenty of season left and we are going to continue to improve in all aspects of the game.”
Next: William Penn travels to Upland, Ind. next Saturday to compete in a Mid-States Football Association crossover game against Taylor (Ind.). Kickoff is set for noon (Central).