The William Penn football team will return to the Windy City Saturday in search of revenge as it takes on No. 14 Saint Xavier in Midwest League action.
The Statesmen (3-4, 1-1 MWL) travel to Chicago to meet the Cougars (4-3, 1-1 MWL) at Bruce R. Deaton Field at 1 p.m. The game will be a rematch of last year’s NAIA Football Championship Series First Round contest, a 31-0 win by Saint Xavier.
Saturday’s game can be followed on the radio (KBOE 740 AM) as well as on the internet at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/kboe.portal
William Penn is 0-6 all-time in its series against Saint Xavier, including dropping last year’s playoff contest.
In its first postseason competition since 1976, the Statesmen offense was slowed to just 233 total yards. The Cougars had the ball deep in William Penn territory three times in the early going, but the Statesmen permitted just three points.
The floodgates finally opened in the second quarter and Saint Xavier scored four more touchdowns and managed 496 total yards.
Tyler Hafner completed 19 passes for 133 yards, while Dalton Phelps was the team’s top rusher with 54 yards.
William Penn could not keep pace late with defending national champion Marian (Ind.) in a 31-21 loss last Saturday.
The Statesmen outgained the Knights 317-282 and recaptured the lead at 21-17 early in the fourth quarter. Marian responded with two late scores, while the William Penn offense was stymied in the waning minutes.
Sam Tvedt was the team’s top rusher with 91 yards, while Brock Peery led the defense with ten tackles and one interception (the lone William Penn takeaway).
“This was another tough one to swallow,” William Penn coach Todd Hafner said. “I thought our kids played with great enthusiasm and energy, but we just came up a bit short.”
Thus far in 2013, William Penn is averaging 30.1 points and 364.4 yards per game, including 321.1 rushing and 43.3 passing. The Statesmen are second in the NAIA in total rushing (2,248) and third in rushing average.
Evan Ressler leads the team with 523 rushing yards, while Shawn Davis is next with 477 yards and nine scores. Two others are also over 300 yards.
Hafner leads the passing game by going 22-for-66 for 224 yards. Aaron Broyles is pacing the receiving corps with 12 catches for 94 yards.
William Penn has committed 13 turnovers so far this fall.
Defensively, the Statesmen are giving up an average of 22.4 points and 306.7 yards, including 168.1 passing and 138.6 rushing.
Isaac Samek tops William Penn with 53 tackles and three interceptions. Nick DiMarco has a team-best nine sacks (15.5 tackles for loss). The junior is third nationally in both total sacks and sacks per game (1.3), fifth in total tackles for loss and sixth in tackles for loss per game (2.2).
William Penn is fourth in the nation in total sacks (22) and seventh in sacks per game (3.2).
The Statesmen have forced eight turnovers this year.
Marcus Kerrigan is 19-for-22 in extra points and 4-for-12 in field goals. The senior is again pairing up with Jason Johnson to make a strong punting duo. Johnson has punted 14 times for a 38.4 yard clip, while Kerrigan has nine attempts for a 36.2 mark.
Jacob Batterson is tops in the kick return game with a 28.7 yard average, including one TD. He ranks eighth in the NAIA in kick return average.
The Cougars gave up plenty of yards, but still held off Waldorf 37-21 for its first win in Midwest League action last Saturday.
Saint Xavier led 27-7 after the first quarter, but never really slammed the door as it only outgained the Warriors 539-419. The Cougars forced five Waldorf turnovers.
Quarterback Joe Gill completed 33 of 51 passes for 353 yards and four touchdowns. Ten different players had a catch in the win.
Joshua Hunter was the top rusher with 79 yards and a score.
Thus far in 2013, Saint Xavier is averaging 29.6 points and 446.3 yards per game, including 282.7 passing and 163.6 rushing. The Cougars rank ninth in the NAIA in total passing yards (1,979).
Gill leads the team by going 95-for-157 for 868 yards and seven touchdowns. His top receiver is Nick DeBenedetti with 38 grabs for 552 yards and six scores. Six other players are also over the century mark in receiving yards.
Nick Pesek is leading the ground attack with 242 yards and four TDs. Four of his teammates are over the century mark as well.
Saint Xavier has committed 18 turnovers so far this fall.
Defensively, the Cougars are giving up an average of 32.0 points and 449.7 yards, including 286.3 passing and 163.4 rushing.
Zach Dolph leads Saint Xavier with 62 tackles, while Greg Hayward has 4.5 sacks. Jacob Ghinazzi has a team-best two interceptions.
The Cougars have forced 12 turnovers this year.
Spencer Nolen is 22-for-24 in extra points and 9-for-14 in field goals. He is also the team’s punter, sending 23 kicks away for a 42.3 average. Nolen ranks fourth in the NAIA in field goals made and field goals per game (1.3). He is also seventh nationally in total points (kicking) with 49, as well as 10th in points per game (7.0) and punting average.
DeBenedetti guides the return game with a 22.8-yard kick average and a 9.2-yard punt average. He is ninth in the nation with 1,098 all-purpose yards.
“Saint Xavier is another very quality football team,” Hafner said. “They have many returners on defense that gave us a tough time in the playoff game last year. They are going to spread the ball all over the field on offense, so hopefully we can create a few turnovers and give our offense more opportunities.”