f Iowa Wesleyan University - Tigers give nationally ranked Bees a battle before falling
Elijah Albert (#22) recovers a fumble by St. Ambrose in the second quarter Saturday night. Photo courtesy Emily Situ
Elijah Albert (#22) recovers a fumble by St. Ambrose in the second quarter Saturday night. Photo courtesy Emily Situ
Football - Sat, Oct. 15, 2011
Tigers give nationally ranked Bees a battle before falling
Saint Ambrose University
Iowa Wesleyan
MOUNT PLEASANT - Iowa Wesleyan College put up a game effort but went empty on too many trips to St. Ambrose University territory in the second half, losing to the Fighting Bees 27-7 Saturday night in a Mid-States Football Association Midwest League game.

The 14th-ranked Fighting Bees scored ten points in the final 4:13 of the game to finally pull away from the Tigers in a game much closer than the final score. SAU improved to 5-1 overall and remained unbeaten in league play at 3-0, while Wesleyan took another tough loss to a good opponent and fell to 1-5 overall, 1-3 in the MSFA Midwest.

IWC will remember the game as one in which it had a number of chances to get closer or even potentially tie the game in the second half, only to never break through. The Tigers went into the fourth quarter trailing just 17-7 and had a chance to cut the lead to seven when a drive stalled at the SAU 5-yard line early in the quarter. A mishandled snap on a 22-yard field goal attempt by Brett Brodersen (Jr.-Visalia, Calif.) resulted in a blocked kick though, denying IWC a chance to get within a touchdown.

Wesleyan sandwiched that drive with a pair of penetrations deep into Ambrose territory that both netted zero points. IWC was driving late in the third quarter when quarterback Kevin McConnell (Jr.-Kansas City, Mo.) hit Buddy Guastella (Jr.-Yorba Linda, Calif.) on a screen pass. Guastella picked his way through traffic in the middle of the field and got 16 yards on the play to the SAU 28-yard line before having the ball poked away from behind, and the Bees recovered to stop the drive.

Still trailing just 17-7 in the fourth, the Tigers again moved the ball and drove down as far as the St. Ambrose 23. A penalty, a dropped pass and a short pass to an open receiver over the middle led to a fourth down play, and McConnell was sacked on fourth down to stop the drive.

The Bees finally put the game away soon after, as Cole Kelly took off for a 43-yard run to move the ball deep in Wesleyan territory, and then finished the drive with an 11-yard touchdown to make it 24-7 with 4:13 left. McConnell was intercepted on the Tigers' next drive, and SAU added a field goal with 41 seconds left for the final score.

The result spoiled a strong showing from the IWC defense and a statistical battle between the two teams that was mostly even for the game. The Tigers held the Bees to 333 yards of total offense and 14 first downs, as well as 3 of 15 conversions on third down (20%). The offensive numbers were similar to what Wesleyan produced itself, with the Tigers gaining 302 yards and 14 first downs for the game.

St. Ambrose produced just enough big plays to make the difference in the game, though. A 27-yard touchdown pass from Eric Williamson to Andrew Friederich on 3rd-and-long put the Bees ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter, and a 38-yard completion from Williamson to James Pace led to SAU's second touchdown with 1:22 left in the first half.

The Wesleyan defense provided a hard hitting game and was particulary stingy in the second half, allowing just 71 yards until the Bees' two drives late. Aaron Wagoner (Jr.-Roseville, Calif.) led the way with nine tackles, including 1 1/2 tackles for loss and a forced fumble recovered by Elijah Albert (Jr.-Richmond, Calif.). Duane Lee (Jr.-San Jose, Calif.) and Justin Hunnicutt (Jr.-San Francisco, Calif.) also both added six tackles each, and Lee picked up his third interception of the season to stop a Bees drive in the first quarter.

IWC meanwhile leaned on McConnell and Ridge Hobbs (So.-New London, Iowa) to provide much of its offense. Hobbs again was a big play machine, catching eight passes for 106 yards as well as his sixth touchdown reception of the season, a 13-yard pass from McConnell in the corner of the end zone that made it 14-7 with 8:55 left in the third quarter. The touchdown was set up two plays earlier when on fourth down the Tigers ran the "rooskie" play and fooled everyone when Raul Becerill (Fr.-Mission, Texas) took off 34 yards down to the St. Ambrose 12.

McConnell completed 23 of 36 passes for 186 yards and also rushed 26 times. He gained 101 yards on the ground but lost 48 yards, mainly as the result of six sacks by the Fighting Bee defense, and finished with a net of 53 yards. Raul Lozano (Fr.-Yuba City, Calif.) and LiMichael Peeples (So.-Conyers, Ga.) both added five catches each, for 26 and 25 yards, respectively.

The Tigers take to the road next week to face Waldorf College at 2:30 p.m. in Forest City for IWC's final road game of the season. Wesleyan will then close the season out with three straight games at Mapleleaf Stadium.

Box score #14 SAU 27 IWC 7