Spartans Drop Nailbiter to Illinois Wesleyan 21-14

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The Spartans of Aurora University fell to the Titans of Illinois Wesleyan University 21-14 in the home opener at Vago field despite some late game heroics by the Spartans.

The high powered offense of Illinois Wesleyan University traveled to Aurora University Saturday to battle the Spartans. Both teams undefeated entering today's contest with the Titans being the heavy favorite holding an all time record of 4-0. The Spartans were seeking some revenge after a 52-6 loss last season.

The Spartans began the game with solid play from the defense, holding the Titans to just eight yards on their first drive which lasted only two and a half minutes. However, the Spartans would share a similar fate in their opening possession totaling only 29 yards in two minutes.

On the following drive, the Titans seemed to have the Spartan defense on their heels as they marched the ball 97 yards from their own seven yard line to the Aurora three yard line.

Needing just three yards to score, it seemed the Titans were sure to reach the end zone as senior running back Eli Williams took the ball to the outside. However, Aurora University Senior defense back Anthony Dillabough had other plans as he lowered his shoulder and laid a massive hit on Williams causing Williams to fumble on the goal line and fellow defensive back Jimmy Fierro would recover the loose ball with 2:49 left in the first quarter.

The Spartans were able to take the wind out of the Titan's sails with the forced fumble, but would be unable to move the ball. On third down and with just over one minute left in the first quarter, Spartan quarterback Jimmy Bevell's (junior) attempt to get the ball to wide out Evan Hackbarth (junior) was intercepted by junior defensive back P.J. Cummings.

The Titans would capitalize on the excellent field possession as Bo Lanter; a senior running back would find the end zone on just the second play of the possession. After a successful PAT, the Titans would lead 7-0.

Aurora would strike back with a field goal from senior kicker Ryan Subick. The field goal came at the end of a 60 yard, five minute drive for the Spartans.

Illinois Wesleyan would answer right back and the Titans Lanter returned the kickoff 47 yards to the Aurora 38 yard line. Needing just four plays, senior quarterback Brien Rooney would connect with wide receiver Dayton Burnett for a quick touchdown. Kicker Tim Hollowed made the score 14-3 with the extra point conversion.

Both teams would have opportunities to score in the remainder of the quarter but would be unable to add additional points to the board. The half would end with the Titans holding a 14-3 lead over the Spartans.

The second half began as a defensive showdown with both team exchanging big hits. One of the biggest plays came after a Spartan punt was blocked deep inside their own territory. On the first play after taking over the ball, the Titans quarterback was intercepted by Spartan defensive back Mike Langhurst (Senior). Neither team relinquished much ground on defense during 3rd quarter. After several unsuccessful drives by both offenses, the quarter would quickly come to an end with the same score of 14-3 in favor of the Titans.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Spartans would put the pressure back on the Titans finishing off an 81 yard drive with a touchdown. The score came at the 12:37 mark of the fourth when Hackbarth used every inch of his 6'2" frame to reach over the Titan defender and secure the pass from quarterback Bevell. Aurora successfully attempted the two-point conversion on a Bevell pass to wide out Jordan Peterson.

Illinois Wesleyan would again answer a Spartan score on the following possession. A 56 yard drive was finished off by Rooney as he scrambled for a nine yard touchdown run and a converted extra point. This made the score to 21-11, Titans.

This time it was the Spartans turn to follow a score with a score. Aurora received the kickoff from the Titans and made a 10 play, 54 yard drive in less than four minutes. The drive resulted in a field goal by Subick and again placed the Spartans within striking distance.

The Spartan defense came up huge allowing the Titans just three yards on their next possession. This quick stop gave the ball back to the Spartan Offense with just over two minutes remaining.

The Spartan offense wasted no time and found themselves inside the Titan 20 yard line after several great plays.

However, the Spartans were unable to best the defense of the Titans due to some untimely penalties and missed opportunities. The game ended in a loss for the Spartans 21-14.

The Aurora University football team takes the field again October 2, 2010 against Lakeland College at 1:00pm on Vago Field.

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