Last weekend, Illinois Wesleyan football fought against Carroll University in Waukesha, WI on Saturday, September 18. The back-and-forth game was close but led to an eventual 33-34 loss for the Titans, landing them at 0-2 for the season.
The Green-and-White saw a strong start in the first quarter. Only a few minutes after the start of the game, the Titans were leading 7-0 thanks to sophomore wide receiver Charlie Hamilton and sophomore quarterback Sage Schindler. Five minutes before the end of the first quarter, senior running back Hamid Bullie sailed four yards into the endzone and brought the Titans’ lead to 13-7. Only minutes later, sophomore running back Seth Albin completed a 2-play, 53-yard touchdown to bring IWU up 19-7 by the end of the first quarter.
Heading into the second quarter, Carroll took another touchdown into the endzone and brought the score to 19-14, but IWU maintained their lead. Just to be safe, Albin added another four-yard touchdown for the Titans. The Pioneers passed one more touchdown with just under two minutes left in the quarter, with the score at a suspenseful 25-21 as halftime started.
The Pioneers and the Titans kept each other in check for the majority of the third quarter until IWU fumbled. Carroll’s sophomore kicker Jacob Laurent nailed one 25-yard field goal with 10:08 left on the clock and a 30-yard field goal at 02:42, bringing the Titans down to 27-25.
Illinois Wesleyan charged into the fourth and final quarter, hoping to regain their victory. Senior Zack Tenzca finished off an 81-yard, nine-play storm with a strike in the endzone. After connecting with Tenzca, passing leader Schindler found Hamilton once again. After less than 15 minutes of play, the Titans were back up by five. The lead lasted a few minutes until the Pioneers tied it back up at 33-33. Carrol’s Laurent took home one more point for Carroll, breaking both IWU’s lead and the tie. At 10:22 left in the game and trailing by one, Wesleyan broke out some fierce moves to try and recover.
Bullie scouted several runs into Pioneer territory, followed by a number of impressive catches by senior Wesley Watson, Hamilton, and Bullie. Bullie made one final grab, stealing a field goal and one last attempt to etch out a win for the Titans. With seconds left on the clock, Illinois Wesleyan watched as the game-winning field goal veered right and missed the mark. After a nail-biter game, the Titans ended behind by one with a final score of 34-33.
By the end of the game, IWU’s defense rounded up some impressive numbers. Senior defensive end Nicholas DeGregorio tallied a team-high eight tackles. Alongside him were junior linebacker Fernando Chavez and junior defensive back James Porter with seven stops each and a 1.5 tackle-for-loss by Chavez.
Despite the game ending in an IWU loss, multiple players broke career-highs on the field. Tenzca brought in six catches that led to 85 yards and a touchdown, all of which constitute new career highs for the senior tight-end. Bullie also set new records for himself with a vigorous attack that scored 186 yards on 25 carries. His dash into the endzone also added one more touchdown on his profile, bringing his career total to five TDs. For the first time in his collegiate career, sophomore running back hauled in two touchdowns and 22 rushing yards.
Illinois Wesleyan still stands at 0-2 for the season but they will have an opportunity to change that record this weekend on Saturday, September 25 when they return to Wisconsin to battle the Carthage College Firebirds.