Titans fall short to undefeated Wheaton College

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Sam LaLonde

 

On Saturday, Nov. 8, the Illinois Wesleyan University football team traveled to Wheaton College to take on the undefeated Wheaton Thunder. Despite plenty of chances to score, the Titans lost a tough game 13-7 to the nationally ranked Thunder. This was the fourth straight loss for IWU, and the ninth straight win for Wheaton.

Coming into the game, the Titans were looking to upset the national powerhouse and salvage something from a season that has proved to be tough for a team that had a good season last year. Although the defense was able to hold a powerful Thunder offense to 13 points, the Titan offense was unable to capitalize on a few key red zone trips.

Before half, IWU had the ball inside the Wheaton 20-yard line three times, but were unable to score in the first half. Though disappointing, the Titans were down only seven at the break.

In past weeks, the offense and defense have each had impressive performances, but rarely in the same game. Saturday’s contest was no different. The Titan defense was led by junior defensive back, Kevin Slawkowski, who accounted for 14 total tackles.

He received help from sophomore linebackers Sean Garvey and Luke Roth, who had 13 and 11 tackles respectively. Wheaton’s quarterback still managed to have a good day, with 22 completed passes of 34 attempts for 228 yards and 69 rushing yards.

On the offensive side, first-year quarterback Jack Warner struggled to provide much offense against the tough Wheaton defense. Warner was 13 for 30 on passing attempts for 180 yards, and rushed for 44 yards on 19 attempts (2.3 yards per carry).

Sophomore running back Austin Harrell had a good day with 115 yards on 13 carries and three catches for 42 yards. Junior receiver Artie Checchin managed 115 receiving yards on seven catches.

Through the struggles, IWU found themselves in a decent position late in the game when they scored their first touchdown with 10:54 left in the fourth quarter on an 80-yard drive that was capped off by a three-yard touchdown pass from Warner to junior Andrew Javorka. In total, Wheaton accounted for 400 yards of total offense to IWU’s 349.

Junior defensive lineman Will Hargrove said, “Our team wanted to prove to the critics that we are a better team than our records showed, which was why we fought as hard as we did against an undefeated Wheaton team.”

Certainly, the Titans brought heart and grit to the game, but still fell just short of an upset.

The Titans will take on North Park for Senior Day at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15 in Tucci Stadium.