Wade Steinlage, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
OSKALOOSA – The William Penn football team looked every bit the equal to #18 Evangel during the first half of Saturday’s season opener, but could not sustain that level of play the entire afternoon in a 19-7 Heart of America Athletic Conference North-South Crossover setback.
Coming off a 4-7 campaign last fall, WPU (0-1) tried to make an early-season statement by knocking off one of the league’s top squads, and through 30 minutes was on course to do so.
Following a combined four consecutive punts, the Crusaders (1-0) broke the scoreless tie late in the first quarter with a touchdown. The hosts could not answer right away as they settled for another boot by Kane Brumbaugh (So., Ottumwa, Iowa), but two plays–on the first snap of the second quarter in fact–Jace Neugebauer (So., McArthur, Calif., Business Management) got in the way of an EU pass, intercepting it at the Evangel 37-yard line.
Tyler Wood (Sr., Newton, Iowa, Sports Management) was only 3-for-12 passing in the contest, but connected on his biggest one of the day five plays later, lofting the pigskin into the corner of the endzone where Jeremiah Benson (Sr., Kansas City, Mo., Physical Education) hauled it in from 14 yards out. The game was Benson’s first since 2017, after missing last year with an injury.
Wood finished with 41 yards through the air and just five on the ground as the Statesmen were limited to 150 total yards.
The sides remained knotted at 7-7 entering the final stanza, but the visitors pulled away with two long scoring drives in the fourth. Unfortunately, William Penn was unable to match those efforts and were saddled with the loss. In the end, the Crusaders finished with 435 yards of total offense.
Alex Jung (So., Fullerton, Calif.) rushed six times for a team-high 47 yards, while Archer Charles (So., Guntersville, Ala.) added 31 more. Brumbaugh was busy Saturday with nine punts for an average of 39.6 yards, including a bomb of 71 yards that unfortunately just snuck into the endzone for a touchback. He landed three attempts inside the EU 20-yard line.
Neugebauer had a strong outing to pace the defense, finishing with a squad-best nine tackles. Resean Coleman (Sr., River Rouge, Mich., Exercise Science) tallied a sack and a blocked extra point as well.
Next Up: William Penn travels to Atchison, Kan. next Saturday to face #2 Benedictine at 1 p.m. in another Heart North-South Crossover game.