OLATHE — The William Penn football team could not find any rhythm on the road Saturday, falling 33-9 to MidAmerica Nazarene in a Heart of America Athletic Conference crossover game.
Early in the matchup, it looked like William Penn (0-3) was going to be able to move the ball on the Pioneers (2-1), but the opening drive fizzled out and the Statesmen turned the ball over on downs.
The Pioneers capitalized on their ensuing drive to claim the early 6-0 lead (extra point was missed). The following possessions for both teams were short three-and-outs, and the next WPU drive was no better as it ended in a lost fumble, giving MNU a short field.
The hosts took advantage, extending their edge to 13-0. MidAmerica Nazarene once again had a short gridiron in their next drive, but the Statesmen defense stood tall and held the Pioneers to a field goal for a 16-0 margin.
Back-to-back punts occurred with the second sticking William Penn deep at its own nine-yard line. A false start penalty then backed WPU up to the five, but with his team’s back to the wall, Sterling Ramsey II (Fr. Tulsa, Okla., Business Management) got the Statesmen out of trouble by hooking up with Rakim Lamarre (Fr. Woodbridge, Va., Exercise Science) who had broken free down the right side. He hauled in the pigskin and dashed the rest of the way for a 95-yard touchdown, making the score 16-7. Ramsey II was 9-for-30 passing for 244 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
The 95-yard touchdown demolishes the previous school record for longest passing touchdown of 84 yards, held by quarterback Ryan Van Dalen and receiver Adam Randall from 2007.
The Statesmen defense bent on its next time on the field, limiting the Pioneers to a field-goal try. MNU fortunately came away empty-handed as Jaden Curtis (Sr. Glendale, Ariz., Digital Communication) blocked the attempt.
The William Penn offense unfortunately then gave the ball right back and the Pioneers struck one more time before halftime for a 23-7 edge.
WPU opened the second half with a big special teams play as a short squib kick was recovered by the Statesmen. The abbreviated field could not be capitalized upon, however, as the ball was turned over on downs.
The next two combined possessions ended in punts, before MidAmerica Nazarene pushed the edge up to 30-7 late.
Another Statesmen drive came to a stop due to a turnover, but the play ended at the MNU one-yard line. WPU dominated the next play from scrimmage, tackling the Pioneer ballcarrier for a safety.
That score capped the Statesmen scoring, while MNU added one more field goal in the final stanza.
At game’s end, the Statesmen were outgained by the Pioneers 408-385. Lamarre topped the receiving corps with four receptions for 188 yards and one touchdown.
Chauncey Andrews (So., Tulsa, Okla., Psychology) headlined the WPU run game with 17 rushes for 82 yards.
Jagger Blubaugh (Jr., Wichita, Kan., Exercise Science) was the defensive star with 16 tackles, while Harlan Plumber (Jr., Bryan, Texas, Exercise Science) also managed double-figure tackles with 14. Howard Huerta (So., Panaroma City, Calif., Sports Management) added eight stops of his own.
“Like the last couple weeks, we can’t say enough about how hard our players are playing,” Head Coach Todd Hafner said. “In order for us to take the next step offensively, we need to learn how to protect the football. Our defense continues to play at a very high level with two blocked two kicks and the recovery of a pooch kick on special teams. We are looking forward to getting better this week.”
Next Up: William Penn returns to Oskaloosa next Saturday, hosting Evangel in a Heart crossover game at 6 p.m.