ngton, IA. April 10, 2021 – The Westminster College football team traveled to Burlington, IA to take on the Iowa Wesleyan University Tigers in their second UMAC game of the season. The conditions were less than favorable as the team played in a steady rain on a cold April day. Despite the weather and an Iowa Wesleyan team that was playing it's first home game of the year the Blue Jays were able to jump out to a 10-0 halftime lead and grind out a huge 20-13 road victory to improve to 2-0.
The first quarter was rather uneventful as both teams searched for the right combination for the weather. The Blue Jays had the opening possession and picked up two first downs the second of which was the result of an Iowa Wesleyan roughing the kicker penalty that moved the Blue Jays into IWU territory but the drive stalled at the 38-yard line and the Blue Jays played the field possession game as Tim Branneky's 37-yard punt was downed at the one-yard line.
The two teams exchanged punts on the next three possessions as the field position on the wet day was vital. The Blue Jays special teams kept the IWU offense backed up deep in their own territory. The Blue Jays would take possession with 2:20 left in the quarter just shy of mid field at the 46-yard line. A Kalyn Davis 6-yard rush after he lost a yard on first down and quarterback Wyatt Ellis's 4-yard run on third down set up a 4th and 1 from the IWU 45-yard line and Head Coach John Welty and Offensive Coordinator Brock Silvers had their first big decision of the day. They would go for it on 4th down and Ellis would pick up the first down gaining 2 yards down to the 43. Davis would gain 6 yards on carries on 1st and 2nd down setting up a 3rd and 4 from the IWU 37-yard line. Ellis would take the snap and run left get the corner and scamper down the sideline eluding a couple IWU tacklers staying inbounds and would score the first touchdown of the day for the Blue Jays. Branneky's kick was good and the Blue Jays would lead 7-0 with 12:41 to play in the second quarter.
The next seven possessions resulted in punts. Then the Blue Jays would catch a break. Iowa Wesleyan had the ball backed up in their own territory 4th and 6 from their 35 with 1:36 seconds before half. The IWU punter didn't handle the snap and took of trying for the first down. He didn't get far as the Jays Quinn Randall would bring him down for a 5-yard loss and most importantly gave the Blue Jays the ball back deep in enemy territory. The Jays would pick up 14 yards on 6 plays before Branneky would kick a 27 yard field goal with :21 left on the clock and the Blue Jays would head to halftime with at 10-0 lead.
The Tigers took the ball first in the second half and went a quick three and out thanks to Dominic Licameli breaking up a pass on 3rd down. A short 19-yard punt by IWU gave the Blue Jays the ball back on the IWU 46-yard line. As the conditions called for a ground-based attack for most of the day the jays kept their entire possession on the ground. Ben Wallace would run for a 16-yard gain and a first down on 2nd and 14. Later Davis would motor 13 yards on 2nd and 8 down to the 19-yard line. The Blue Jays would face their only 3rd down of the drive at 3rd and 2 from the IWU 11. Jaden Kendrick would pick up five yards and a first down and on 1st and goal Davis would plow through the IWU defense for a 6-yard TD and the Branneky kick was good and the Blue Jays would lead 17-0.
On the next Tiger possession, they would fumble the ball on the first play and the Blue Jays Korey Kroll would recover it. The Blue Jays however would have to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt that just missed and the score remained 17-0.
With 2:57 left in the third quarter the Blue Jays had the ball 4th and 6 backed up on their own 20 and were getting ready to punt. The Tigers broke through the Jays line and blocked the punt recovering the ball on the Blue Jay 8-yard line. Three plays later on 3rd and goal from the 4 the Tigers would score on a 4-yard TD run but they would miss the extra point and the score was 17-6.
Westminster had a drive going early in the 4th after Kendrick completed a 41-yard pass to Taylor Dobbins on 3rd and 17 down to the IWU 29-yard line. That drive would end without points as the Tigers would intercept a Kendrick pass at the 21.
The Blue Jays would intercept the Tigers and that interception would lead to a 37-yard Tim Branneky field goal that pushed the Blue Jay lead to 20-6 with 11:30 to play in the game.
The Jays next possession would chew up 6 minutes off the clock as they would advance the ball to mid field. Disaster would strike on 1st and 10 from the 49-yard line when IWU would force a fumble, recover it and return it 50 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was good and with just over 4 minutes left the Tigers were within a touchdown at 20-13.
The Blue Jays would get a couple first downs but eventually had to punt with :21 left in the game. The Tigers muffed the punt and the Blue Jays Delrick Freeman would recover. The Jays went into victory formation downed the ball and ran off the field with the 20-13 victory.
The game was a tale of two styles. The Blue Jays gained 253 yards on the ground on 63 carries and threw for 69 yards on 6-11 attempts for 320 yards of total offense for the Jays. IWU on the other hand had just 152 total yards as they threw for 102 yards on 11-33 pass attempts on the wet cold day. They ran the ball 21 times for 50 yards.
The Jays defense was working all day long in the conditions. They had 4 tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. The Blue Jays broke up seven Tiger passes with Licameli and Hunter Johnson breaking up two each.
The Blue Jays will get a weekend off before they will be back in action on the road at Greenville University on Saturday April 24th. The game is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. kick off.