On September 4, Illinois Wesleyan football faced off at home against Franklin College in the team’s season opener. The team was leading in the first quarter against the Grizzlies but by the end of the first half, the Titans lost their lead as the score tied.
IWU’s offense managed to gain 490 yards (165 on foot and 325 in the air), while Franklin’s offense only put up 354 yards offensively (180 passing, 174 rushing).
Senior Hamid Bullie led the offensive rush with 21 carries for 141 yards followed closely by sophomore Charlie Hamilton who secured 128 yards and, alongside sophomore quarterback Sage Schindler, two touchdowns. Receiving Schindler’s third touchdown pass was senior Jacob Potthoff who took a 35-yard diving catch into the endzone. Overall, Schindler finished out 22-for-44, claiming 325 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick for the team.
Leading the defense were seniors Nicholas DeGregorio and Connor Murphy. DeGregorio took the game-high of 12 stops (eight solo, four assisted) and 1.5 tackles for loss. Murphy added ten tackles, followed by senior Skyler Metzger with eight. Seniors Tyler Maple and Jack Dawson also notched in interceptions.
The Titans opened strong only minutes into the first quarter, with Schindler’s 25- and 50-yard touchdown strikes to Hamilton that brought the score to 14-0. Schindler again met Porthoff with a 35-yard touchdown just before halftime, but not before Franklin was able to etch out 21 unmatched points. As the buzzer rang for halftime, the scores were an even 21-21.
“Everyone was buzzing as the first quarter ended, but you could definitely tell the energy had changed by the end of the game. It’s only the first game of the season, though, so I’m rooting for the guys next week,” junior spectator Emily Canter said after the game.
The Grizzlies began the third quarter at the 38-yard line and were able to take advantage of their position. In only four moves, they upped the score to 28-21. The fourth quarter brought defeat for Illinois Wesleyan, who eventually ran out the timer with a score of 35-21.
The Titans have a chance to get back in action on September 8 at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI during the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.