Oct. 31, 2009

Courtesy of Illinois-Wesleyan

The Illinois Wesleyan Titans won only the second overtime game in its football history, topping No. 9 North Central, 28-22 at Wilder Field on Saturday, Oct. 31.

The Titans improved to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (good for a three-way first place tie) while the Cardinals fell to 6-2 overall and also 4-1 in the league. The win snapped a six-game Cardinal win streak over IWU.

The Titans opened the scoring on their first possession, capping a nine-play, 74-yard drive with an 11 yard pass from senior Kraig Ladd to Chris Messina. Sophomore Michael Fenger added the extra point kick to give IWU a 7-0 lead. The opening drive was extended on a 33-yard run on a fake punt by linebacker Mike Kotz.

North Central tied the score at 7-7 with 4:30 to play in the first quarter when Aaron Fanthorpe completed a 19 yard pass to Hank Johnston for a score and Andrew Barciszewski added the extra point.

The Cardinals took a 14-7 lead in the third period with 7:22 to play when backup quarterback Spencer Stanek found Steve Hlavac with a 25 yard TD pass. Barciszewski added the kick. Stanek replaced Fanthorpe, who suffered a hip injury and did not play after intermission.

With 5:21 to play in the third, Ladd hit Dayton Burnett on a 32-yard score to make it 14-13 and the scored stayed that way when Fenger's extra point kick was blocked.

Ladd, who was IWU's leading rusher with 67 yards, scored on a 3-yard run with 13:02 to play in the game and the two-point conversion failed to leave IWU ahead 19-14.

With 8:58 to play in the game, Fenger kicked in a 22-yard field goal to end a nine play, 72-yard drive and put the Titans on top 22-14.

But the Cardinals scored just 36 seconds later to tie the game at 22-22 when Stanek ran in from five yards out then completed a pass to Joe Antonacci for a two point conversion.

North Central had the ball first in overtime but were held and Barciszewski missed a 42-yard field goal on fourth down. On the Titans' possession, which consisted of five plays, Ladd hit Michael Sloboda with his first catch of the day for a 10-yard score to give IWU the 28-22 win.

The Titans accumulated 505 yards of total offense on 82 plays and North Central gained 346 on 75 plays.

Ladd finished the day completing 23 of 48 passes for 340 yards and three TDs. Messina made 11 catches for 150 yards and Burnett made five for 116 yards. Eli Williams rushed 12 times for 45 yards.

Fanthorpe was 8-for-10 for 129 yards and Stanek completed 8-for-22 for 120 yards. Phillip Rossberg ran for 31 yards on 11 carries and Stanek gained 31 on seven.

SeniorNick Nikolich made 10 total tackles, including nine solo and Mike Ammirati collected eight total tackles with a -3 quarterback sack and a pass breakup to lead Illinois Wesleyan. Robert Beauchamp made an interception for a 22 yard return.

The Cardinals defense was paced by Joe Schneiderbauer with nine tackles and a sack while Josh McLeod, Scott Hogan and Willie Hayes each had seven tackles.

The only other Illinois Wesleyan overtime game was in 2002, also at home, a 31-24 win over Washington U.

The Titans will honor their seniors next Saturday, November 7, with a 1 p.m. game against Wheaton, who defeated Elmhurst on Oct. 31 to improve to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the league (identical to IWU).