Statesmen Upended by Pioneers

Oskaloosa–A great start unfortunately gave way to turnover troubles as the William Penn football team fell to MidAmerica Nazarene 27-16 in a Heart of America Athletic Conference North-South Crossover game Saturday.

WPU (0-3) remained winless despite outgaining MNU (2-1) by a tally of 315-301. A big chunk of that final total came on the opening drive of the game as the navy and gold marched 75 methodical yards over the span of 11 plays. Jordan Nunnery (Jr., Oxnard, Calif., Sports Management), who was making his season debut, eventually capped off the possession with a three-yard touchdown run on fourth-down-and-goal. The junior finished the day with 38 yards.

Ben Sherman (Fr., Troy, Pa., Elementary Education) was a workhorse right away, earning six carries (16 overall) on the opening drive. He would complete the afternoon with a team-best 102 yards on the ground, the first player to surpass the century mark this fall.

The defense forced a Pioneer punt and the offense went back to work, going 83 yards this time on 16 snaps. Unfortunately, the drive stalled out in MNU’s red zone and WPU had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Hunter Behm (Sr., West Haven, Utah, Mechanical Engineering) for a 9-0 advantage with 1:59 left in the first quarter.

The visitors responded with a score to make it 9-7. They then shut down William Penn on a three-and-out to get the ball back. With the offense suddenly scuffling, the Statesmen defense needed to step up with a huge play and it did in the form of Colton Horak (Fr., Waco, Iowa, Sports Management). The freshman interfered with a third-down pass, intercepting it at the MNU 33-yard line and weaving through traffic on his way to a pick-six and a 16-7 Statesmen advantage with 10:22 until intermission.

Unfortunately, the day quickly spun out of control for the hosts. The Statesmen were only able to manage two more first downs before the break, but also committed a pair of turnovers. They were fortunate to get one back late as Trevon Gauno (Sr., Houma, La., Sports Management) claimed an interception of his own. William Penn entered the locker room still on top, but now just by a score of 16-14.

MNU captured its first lead of the day at 21-16 less than two minutes into the third quarter and refused to relinquish it. On the other side of the ball, giveaways (five total) doomed the navy and gold as they could not get much going after the break.

The Pioneers tacked on another touchdown in the fourth quarter to wrap up the day’s scoring.

Of its 315 yards, 246 came on the ground for William Penn. Quarterback Tyler Wood (Sr., Newton, Iowa, Sports Management) completed three of his seven passes for 66 yards. TJ Hayes (So., Chicago, Ill., Industrial Technology) hauled in one of those throws for 39 yards to lead the receiving corps.

Defensively, Horak guided the Statesmen with eight tackles (two for loss) and a pair of pass breakups.

“I thought our kids played hard and did what we asked of them,” Head Coach Todd Hafner said. “Defensively, we did some nice things and our young guys are starting to make plays. Offensively, we need to start valuing each possession and making sure we are not putting our defense in bad situations. We were so much better in our special teams game as well.”

“I love this team and their attitude; I want so much for them to get a victory,” Hafner added. “A special thanks goes out to the fans who supported us today, given the other things going on around the state.”

Next Up: William Penn travels to Baldwin City, Kan. next Saturday to face #8 Baker in a Heart crossover game at 1 p.m.

Posted by on Sep 17 2019. 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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