Illinois Wesleyan tops #3 UW-Whitewater in Season Opener; Moves to #14 in National Poll

Illinois Wesleyan quarterback Brandon Bauer completed 17 of 32 passes for 128 yards during the Titans’ 17-10 victory over #3 Wisconsin-Whitewater Saturday afternoon.

Entering Saturday’s contest with Illinois Wesleyan, the UW-Whitewater football team had only lost two non-conference contests since 2005 – the Titans made it three.

With a stunning 17-10 victory over the No. 3 ranked Warhawks at Tucci Stadium in Bloomington, Illinois, head coach Norm Eash and his Titans have opened the 2017 season making a statement. The win vaults the Titan’s to the 14-spot in the most recent D3football.com National Poll.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Warhawks opened the scoring with 8:19 on the clock in the second frame when Wojciech Gasienica split the uprights from 18 yards out to set the score at 3-0.

The Titans responded on the ensuing drive marching 71 yards on 12 plays, capped by sophomore quarterback Brandon Bauer finding Jack Healy in the end zone with 3:51 left on the clock.

The Titans would carry the 7-3 lead heading into the halftime break.

IWU kicker Anthony Sciarini opened the second half scoring, converting from the 40-yard line with 10:38 left in the period to put the Titans up 10-3.

The Warhawks battled back and knotted the score at 10 with 4:35 left in the third when junior quarterback Cole Wilber connected with classmate Canton Larson in the end zone.

The stalemate would hold until 8:02 left on the clock, when Bauer again connected with Healy, this time from the 5-yard line. The extra point from Sciarini set the score at 17-10, and the Titan defense held off a Warhawks chance to tie late in the fourth quarter. After Wilber rushed for a first down to the Titans’ 1-yard line on third-and-11, IWU recovered a Whitewater mis-snap with 59 seconds to play and then converted a key third down with 40 seconds to seal the victory for the Titans.

“I thought our offensive line did a great job and our running back Morgan Alexander had a very good day,” said Eash. “Our defense limited Whitewater’s offense to 42 yards rushing and we had no turnovers – they had 3. It was a total team effort.”

Bauer completed 17 of 32 passes for 128 yards as IWU amassed 259 yards of total offense (131 rushing).  Alexander rushed for 94 yards on 15 carries to pace the IWU backfield, while Healy made five total catches for 61 yards.

Whitewater collected 300 yards of offense (258 passing and 42 rushing) as the Warhawks were stifled inside the 5 yard line on two occasions by bad snaps, losing 25 yards and 9 yards on two separate plays. Wilber finished with 22 completions in 37 tries for the 258 yards. Josh Ringelberg had 33 yards on six carries to lead UWW and Dylan Bernard had 63 yards on three carries.

IWU head coach Norm Eash and the Titans are now ranked #14 in the recent D3football.com National Poll – Photo by Marc Featherly.

Coach Eash had high praise for both teams.

“It was a classy game, both teams played hard and with great sportsmanship,” Eash said. “We have great respect for UW Whitewater and their program. It will go down as one of the top wins in Titan Football history.”

The Warhawks will look to rebound next Saturday, September 9 when they travel to Concordia-Moorhead while IWU will host Nebraska Wesleyan. Both games are a scheduled 1:00pm start.

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