Slow Start Dooms William Penn at Evangel

William Penn University Athletics

William Penn University Athletics

Nixa, Mo.–The Statesmen football team failed to build on its momentum from last weekend as it fell 28-14 to Evangel in a Heart of America Athletic Conference crossover game Friday.

Playing a day earlier than normal, WPU (1-3) and EU (3-1) attacked the matchup in different ways. Evangel passed for 194 yards and rushed for an additional 98 for 292 yards, while the visiting Statesmen notched all of their 256 yards on the ground. The visitors passed the ball just twice, completing only one try for -1 yard.

Coming off a 45-44 win over MidAmerica Nazarene six days earlier, the navy and gold went on defense right away and forced a quick three-and-out. Unfortunately, William Penn’s first play from scrimmage gave the pigskin right back to EU on a fumble.

The hosts were unable to take advantage of the takeaway, but WPU’s ominous offense start continued as it was required to punt after picking up a first down. The snap to the punt was not corralled, though, and the ball was recovered deep in Statesmen territory. Two plays later, Evangel claimed a 7-0 lead.

The Statesmen sought an answer, pushing into EU’s red zone. They were stopped there, though, and Olivas, last week’s hero, had his 41-yard field goal blocked to preserve the 7-0 margin.

The home squad doubled the score to 14-0 in the early minutes of the second quarter before WPU finally answered. The first play of the next possession was an incompletion by Rodney Hall (Fr., Detroit, Mich., Psychology), who was starting at quarterback in place of an injured Alex Crehan (Grad., Troy, Ill., Master’s of Business Leadership), but the remainder of the drive was on the ground, headlined by a 34-yard sprint by Archer Charles (Jr., Guntersville, Ala., Sports Management).

It took WPU a total of 11 plays to march 75 yards, but Ben Sherman (Grad., Troy, Pa., Master’s of Sports Management) drew his team within seven points on a one-yard dive with 4:42 to go until halftime. The graduate student carried the ball 17 times for a team-best 95 yards.

The home crew did not flinch, scoring inside the final minute of play for a 21-7 halftime lead.

Hall took control of the opening drive of the second half, running the pigskin six times, including putting the ball across the goal line from four yards out. The TD narrowed the deficit to seven at 21-14 with 8:25 still left in the third period. Hall called his own number 21 times Friday, finishing with 67 total yards rushing.

Both teams were shut down on their ensuing possessions and the matchup remained tight entering the final quarter. Unfortunately, Evangel once again put the Statesmen in a 14-point hole, doing so with 10:37 remaining.

WPU forced itself into EU territory for a response, but the drive stalled out. That proved to be the team’s final battle cry as Evangel ran out of the clock with two first downs (both sides had 16 first downs).

Rives Grogan (So., Mansfield, Texas, Political Science), with 56 yards, and Charles, with 48 more, also found success as ball carriers. D’Mauryon Hunter (So., Bolingbrook, Ill., Sports Management) paced the defense with nine tackles, while Rogan Pforts (So., Wapello, Iowa, Industrial Technology) finished with seven, including two for loss.

“We did not start out with much energy and enthusiasm, but I am proud of how we responded,” Head Coach Todd Hafner said. “Once we all got moving in a good direction, we showed how good of a team we can be. We started making great plays on defense and controlling and moving the ball on offense.”

“We will take a couple of days off to refresh and get read for Homecoming week,” Hafner said. “We look forward to getting back in front of the best student section in the nation!”

Next Up: William Penn returns to Oskaloosa next Saturday to host Heart South foe Missouri Valley for Homecoming at 2:30 p.m.

Posted by on Sep 19 2021. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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