Wade Steinlage, Sports Information Director
OSKALOOSA –A pair of missed field goals helped the Statesmen football team get off to a good start in Heart of America Athletic Conference North Division play as it held on for a 24-21 Homecoming win over Culver-Stockton Saturday.
WPU (3-4, 1-0 North), which snapped a two-game losing streak, won for the 14th time in its last 15 Homecoming contests. The Statesmen led for much of the afternoon, but needed a last-second defensive stop, ending in a missed field, to walk off victoriously.
After both sides punted on their opening drives, the Wildcats (2-5, 0-1 North) began the day’s scoring with a touchdown midway through the first quarter.
C-SC then got the ball right back on an interception, but the defense stiffened in the red zone and the visitors turned the ball over on downs.
The Statesmen evened things up on their ensuing possession. Highlighted by a 17-yard run by Jordan Nunnery (So., Oxnard, Calif., Sports Management) and a 41-yard reception pass to Nunnery fromTyler Wood (Jr., Newton, Iowa, Education), William Penn went 77 yards on 10 plays over the span of 4:33. Wood completed five of his nine passes for 111 yards.
Culver-Stockton’s offense, which netted 280 yards, unfortunately continued to find success. The defense finally stopped the Wildcats in the red zone, forcing a field-goal attempt. Detorien Rawlinson (So., York, S.C., Psychology) has had a propensity for big plays on defense, but on Saturday, he showed his skills on special teams. The sophomore flew around the right corner and blocked the kick and the teams went into intermission tied at 7-7.
The 7-7 score continued to last through the first two drives of the third stanza. WPU started its second possession of the period at midfield and eight plays down the road, the home squad took the lead for good on a four-yard touchdown rush byAmos Johnson (Sr., Rock Island, Ill., Sports Administration).
The navy and gold added to their advantage the next time they had the ball when Hunter Behm (Jr., West Haven, Utah, Mechanical Engineering) sent a 46-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired in the third.
The Wildcats then cut the margin to three at 17-14 early in the fourth, but the advantage once again grew to double figures when Johnson crossed the goal line for the second occasion, this time from five yards out. The senior topped WPU with 97 rushing yards, while the Statesmen ended up with 381 total yards.
A big kickoff return set up a short field for C-SC and the visiting crew took advantage to make it 24-21 with 5:48 remaining in regulation. William Penn had an opportunity to put the game away by running out the clock, but its drive stalled at the opponent’s 37-yard line with 2:42 left.
Needing one more strong outing, the defensive unit bent, but did not break, stopping the Wildcats at the 20-yard line. Culver-Stockton then attempted to get to overtime with a 37-yard field goal, but the kick veered left of the post and WPU, despite committing two turnovers, survived in its North Division opener.
Tyler Phillips (Sr., Altus, Okla., Physical Education) led the receiving corps with two catches for 41 yards. Ben Sherman (Fr., Troy, Pa., Elementary Education), with 88 yards, and Grant Smallwood (Sr., Wichita, Kan., Exercise Science), with 74 yards (long of 51) on just five carries, were also strong on the ground.
Defensively, Jonathan Thomas (Sr., Americus, Ga.) and Mason Wisse (Sr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Physical Education) both recorded 13 tackles; Wisse also had one pass breakup.
Next Up: William Penn closes out its three-game homestand next Saturday by hosting Peru State in Heart North Division play at noon.