Record: 2-2 Home: 1-1 Away: 1-1 Heart: 0-0
Jeremiah Benson, who recovered the late onside kick, finished with two receptions for 81 yards and a score
Jeremiah Benson, who recovered the late onside kick, finished with two receptions for 81 yards and a score
(23)William Penn
(12)Missouri Valley
Football - Sat, Sep. 2, 2017

Marshall, Mo.--The William Penn football team was unable to shut the door last week against Baker, but took care of business down the stretch this time around to get the road upset, knocking off #12 Missouri Valley 27-21 in a Heart of America Athletic Conference North-South Crossover game Saturday.

The 23rd-ranked Statesmen (1-1) led by just six points with 3:34 to go, but recovered an onside kick and ran the clock out by converting two third-down plays to avenge last year's 8-7 loss to the Vikings (0-2).

The sides appeared well on their way to another low-scoring affair, knotted at 0-0 inside the final two minutes before halftime.  WPU's special teams crew then stepped up as Grant Smallwood (Jr., Wichita, Kan., Exercise Science) blocked an MVC punt and Luke Masters (Fr., Branson, Mo., Undecided) recovered the pigskin at the hosts' 33-yard line.

Seven plays later, Nate Van Veldhuizen (Jr., Oskaloosa, Iowa, Mechanical Engineering) plunged in from two yards out to put the first points on the board.  Van Veldhuizen finished with 40 yards on the night.

After some time in the locker room, both offenses quickly figured it out as the Vikings and Statesmen recorded touchdowns on their first drives of the third quarter.  Missouri Valley did so on a long pass play and the navy and gold answered with a long air attack of their own.  Tyler Wood (So., Newton, Iowa, Education), who was starting in place of an injured Eric Cooper (Sr., Aguanga, Calif., Human Services), found Jeremiah Benson (So., Kansas City, Mo., Physical Education) for a 45-yard score to give WPU the advantage right back at 14-7.

The visiting defense permitted a long run play on the ensuing possession, but quickly stiffened in its own territory, including managing one of its four sacks to force a punt.  William Penn then marched 80 yards--its longest drive of the contest--to double the margin at 21-7 with Amos Johnson (Sr., Rock Island, Ill., Mechanical Engineering) capping the drive with a four-yard TD.  Johnson guided the WPU offense with 82 rushing yards as William Penn held a slight 372-366 edge in total yardage.

Following an empty redzone trip by the visitors, the programs once again exchanged swift touchdowns.  A short Viking kickoff and two home penalties (MVC was flagged 11 times for 104 yards) put the Statesmen in great field position.

Just two plays down the road, the lead was back to double figures at 27-14 as Smallwood broke free and scampered 38 yards to paydirt.  The freshman ended the win with 59 yards on the ground.

WPU then dodge a couple of bullets early in the final period.  Missouri Valley drove into the Statesmen redzone, but a sack on fourth down ended the threat.

The navy and gold then unfortunately got sloppy with the ball, coughing it up on back-to-back drives.  The Vikings failed to take advantage the first time around, but did not make the same mistake with time running out.  MVC put the ball in the endzone with just 3:34 to make it 27-21, but the visitors evened their 2017 record with a heavy dose of Johnson in the last drive (he notched both first downs).  The Statesmen were strong all evening on third and fourth down, going 7-for-14 and 1-for-1, respectively.

Wood rushed for 63 yards and completed two of his five passes for 81 yards, while Benson hauled in both completions.

On the other side of the ball, Rashaad Ollie (Fr., Foley, Ala., Sports Management) accounted for William Penn's lone takeaway, intercepting a pass deep in Viking territory in the first quarter.  The interception unfortunately did not result in any points as a field goal attempt was missed.  Ollie added five tackles as well.

Kyle Baldassarre (Jr., Webb City, Mo., Industrial Technology) topped the defense with seven stops, while Resean Coleman (So., River Rouge, Mich., Exercise Science) notched a pair of sacks.  Cooper Gosch (Jr., Reeds Springs, Okla., Education) and Graham Carnahan (Fr., Cottonwood, Calif., Biology) also sacked MVC's quarterback once each as part of 10 tackles for loss by the victors.

"This was a great win for our team," Head Coach Todd Hafner said.  "Our defense again was outstanding and our offense found some footings about halfway through the game.  Even though we turned the ball over a couple of times late, we were able to learn some lessons and still win the game."

"We feel very good about our team, and way our kids played tonight is even more encouraging for the coaches," Hafner added.

Next Up: William Penn returns to Oskaloosa next Saturday for its home opener, hosting MidAmerica Nazarene in a Heart of America North-South Crossover game at noon.