Fayette, Mo.–After three disappointing weeks to begin the campaign, the Statesmen football team finally broke into the win column with a 34-21 victory over Central Methodist in Heart of America Athletic Conference North-South crossover action Saturday.
William Penn (1-3) and Central Methodist (1-3) exchanged blows throughout the first three quarters, but the visiting Statesmen and sophomore fullback Nate Van Veldhuizen (Oskaloosa, Iowa, Mechanical Engineering) closed strong to wrap up the first of hopefully many W’s.
The navy and gold forced the Eagles into a three-and-out to start the afternoon and then a heavy dose of Van Veldhuizen guided WPU to taking a 7-0 lead just 4:22 into the matchup. Van Veldhuizen, who carried 20 times for 180 yards, had five rushes in his team’s opening drive and capped it with a one-yard plunge.
Another defensive stop set up a second-straight Central Methodist punt. This time around,Nate Deadmond (Fr., Webb City, Mo., Undecided) made a bee line towards the punter and blocked the kick. The freshman then finished off the impressive individual play by recovering the loose ball in the endzone to put WPU ahead 14-0 only 86 seconds after its first score.
A bit later in the quarter, CMU took advantage of obtaining possession in Statesmen territory and cut the margin in half with a quick TD.
William Penn failed to do anything on its following drive, but stuck the Eagles as deep as possible with a punt. Unfortunately, Central Methodist went the distance and knotted the score at 14-14 early in the second quarter.
Both sides had chances to build their tallies late in the half. CMU pushed the pigskin deep twice, but Winston Green (Jr., Sacramento, Calif., Psychology and Sociology) ended the first try with an interception in the endzone and then did it again in front of the goal line on the following drive.
The home squad continued its streak of unanswered points with a final touchdown at the 11:46 mark of the third period.
The navy and gold finally decided enough was enough at that point. Ray Watson (So., Apple Valley, Minn., Physical Education) returned the kickoff 45 yards and Eric Cooper (Jr., Aguanga, Calif., Human Services) finished it off with a 28-yard scoring pass to Desmond Douglas (Sr., Decatur, Ala., Physical Education) to make the score 21-21. Douglas caught two balls for 38 yards.
Following five consecutive combined punts, Cooper, who finished 4-for-7 for 138 yards, hooked up with Van Parker (Jr., Muskegon, Mich., Physical Education) for 60 yards to start the touchdown drive that put William Penn up for good. Parker hauled in two receptions for 100 yards.
Van Veldhuizen then recorded his second TD of the day, this time a six-yard rush to paydirt.
The Statesmen ‘D’ was up to the challenge one more time, giving the ball back to Van Veldhuizen and company for the finishing touches. Facing a huge second down with 26 yards to go, WPU turned to the sophomore and he broke free for a 68-yard scoring scamper.
At game’s end, William Penn outgained CMU 434-365, including 296 on the ground. In addition to Van Veldhuizen’s monster amount, Cooper also added 58 rushing yards Saturday.
Defensively, Vasquez was the leading tackler with nine stops, while the Statesmen sacked CMU’s quarterback four times. Anthony Jackson (So., Detroit, Mich., Physical Education) produced two sacks as did Resean Coleman (So., River Rouge, Mich., Exercise Science).
“We are so proud of our kids,” Head Coach Todd Hafner said. “We faced a lot of adversity, but found a way to overcome by hanging in there and battling. We will continue to improve and hopefully we can go on a streak.”
Next Up: William Penn returns to Oskaloosa next Saturday to host Evangel in a Heart North-South crossover game at noon.
Story provided by Wade Steinlage