Defense Headlines Homecoming Win For William Penn Football

Oskaloosa–The William Penn football team kept another opponent under the century mark in yards as it defeated Avila 34-7 in a Heart of America Athletic Conference North-South Crossover game Saturday.

The Statesmen (4-2) wrapped up crossover play by outgaining the Eagles 419-96.  It is the second time this fall that WPU has kept an opponent below 100 total yards (Central Methodist only had 64 yards two weeks ago).  The victors ran 86 plays, compared to just 48 by AU (2-4).

WPU moved near the Eagles’ redzone in its first possession, but could cash it in.  The hosts did not squander their second chance with the pigskin, though, as a short field resulted in a quick touchdown.  The hosts went 27 yards in four plays, capped by a one-yard plunge by Nate Van Veldhuizen (Jr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Mechanical Engineering).

The defense then forced a three-and-out–one of seven on the day–and then the offense went back to work.  William Penn marched 59 yards on nine plays and nearly doubled the advantage (failed two-point conversion) as Brandon Polito (Sr., St. Louis, Psychology) darted in from five yards out.  Polito tallied 61 rushing yards Saturday.

The Statesmen then hit an offensive lull in the second quarter, entering intermission ahead just 13-0.  At halftime, three new members were inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame, including Steven Dawley (football), BG Campbell (men’s golf), and Brian Theobald (baseball).

William Penn did not add to its tally with the opening drive of the second half, but the next possession did result in seven more points.  The squad capitalized on another short field (33 yards away) and Tyler Wood (So., Newton, Iowa, Education) located Cory Fitzjarrell (Sr., Anderson, Calif., Industrial Technology) for a three-yard pass-and-catch to up the advantage to 20-0 midway through the third quarter.

Wood finished 4-for-10 for 45 yards in the victory, but was also intercepted twice.

The Eagles failed to move the ball yet again and were set to punt, but the kicker failed to make contact with the ball as a crew of Statesmen flooded towards him.  The loose ball was scooped up by Graham Carnahan (Fr., Cottonwood, Calif., Biology) at the 11-yard line, and Van Veldhuizen then made his way into the endzone five plays down the road to extend the margin to 27-0.

WPU was one period away from posting its first shutout in nearly four years, but Avila broke it up on the first play of the fourth quarter on a long punt return for a score.

The Statesmen answered right back, however, with a nine-play, 67-yard scoring drive that ended with Van Veldhuizen once again putting the ball across the goal line, doing so from 13 yards away.  The junior collected 53 yards on the ground.  He also became the first player to have a three-touchdown game since he himself accomplished the feat on September 17 of last year against Central Methodist.

The home team ended the win with arguably its best drive of the day, holding onto the pigskin for the final 7:18; the drive ended with the Statesmen mercifully kneeling in the redzone.

Though he did not score, Wood was by far WPU’s best rusher with 22 carries for 101 yards.  The winners went off for a season-high 374 rushing yards.  Backup quarterback Eric Cooper (Sr., Aguanga, Calif., Human Services) added 40 yards on just six rushes, while five other ball carriers had at least 20 yards each Saturday.

Four different players recorded a reception with Tyler Phillips (Jr., Altus, Okla., Physical Education) having the longest haul of 16 yards.

Both teams turned the other over twice with Rashaad Ollie (Fr., Foley, Ala., Sports Management) intercepting a pass in the third quarter.  Mason Wisse (Sr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Physical Education), who also had a sack, and Resean Coleman (So., River Rouge, Mich., Exercise Science) topped the incredible defensive effort with seven tackles each.

“This was a great win for our team, highlighted by a tremendous defensive effort,” Head Coach Todd Hafner said.  “Our offense played with a great attitude as well.  We will take this week to heal and get ready for the conference portion of our schedule.”

Next Up: William Penn has a bye next week and then travels to Canton, Mo. on October 14 to face Culver-Stockton in its Heart North Division opener at 1 p.m.



Story by Wade Steinlage, WPU Sports Information Director


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