BOURBONNAIS, Ill. - In its first home game in over a month, the Olivet Nazarene University football team took advantage of home field. The Tigers defeated Iowa Wesleyan College 39-28 on Saturday, October 27. Freshman M.J. Green (Albany, Ga.) gave the home crowd something to cheer about as he ran for a career-best 136 yards and scored two touchdowns.
The Tigers (2-7) put on the pressure early with a big sack by senior defensive lineman Tony Turner (Momence, Ill.) that led to a fumble; though Iowa Wesleyan was able to recover the ball, they were forced to punt on the possession. This set up the first Olivet drive in which they marched 69 yards down the field, capped by a 10-yard Green touchdown run, and a 7-0 lead that would not be relinquished.
ONU excelled in all facets of the game for most of the day. Sophomore quarterback Rico Prestia (Elk Grove Village, Ill.) had an efficient day both running and passing the ball. Though he ran for just 14 total yards, one of those was an eight-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to make the score 14-0 following a 82-yard drive that lasted 7:29. He completed 10 of 16 passes and added a touchdown, his second of the second of the year through the air.
Special teams came up big as well, sophomore Linebacker Jared Carl (Galesburg, Ill.) blocked the Iowa Wesleyan punt in the second quarter deep in their own territory and recovered in the end zone, stretching the lead to 21-0. After an Iowa Wesleyan touchdown, junior kicker Andrew Muzljakovich (Vicksburg, Mich.) nailed a 37-yard field goal as the Tigers entered halftime with a 24-7 lead.
As the second half begun, ONU led 24-14 midway through the third quarter. After Iowa Wesleyan stopped the Tigers drive, Muzljakovich punted the ball 82 yards to swing field position in the Tiger’s favor. The punt set the school record for longest punt in an individual game.
The Tigers blocked a second punt later in the third quarter, this time resulting in a safety. But Iowa Wesleyan was not deterred, as quarterback Kevin McDonnell threw two of his four touchdown passes on the day in the fourth quarter. Half of those touchdowns went to wideout Ridge Hobbs. But with the score only 33-28 in favor of Olivet in the fourth quarter, M.J. Green struck again, reeling off a 51-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 39-28. The defense clamped down for the remainder of the quarter and sealed the Tiger victory.
The ONU defense had eight sacks in the game, half of them by Turner, a total of 32 yards. This limited Iowa Wesleyan to a mere 50 rushing yards. Conversely, the Tigers had 229 total rushing yards.
The Tigers (2-7) totaled 368 yards and had 23 first downs on 62 plays. They scored four passing touchdowns on offense.
Kevin McConnell threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns. Ridge Hobbs caught nine balls for 126 yards and two scores.
The Tigers return to action next Saturday, November 3 for the last regular season game played at home against Trinity International University (Ill.), starting at 12 p.m.