The hero in a helmet

More news about: Westminster (Mo.)
Jacob Ellis surprises nobody with the way he carries himself off the field of play.
Westminster (Mo.) athletics photo 

When a player makes a winning touchdown catch or a game-saving tackle, football enthusiasts are quick to call that player a hero.

But the Westminster (Mo.) football team thinks of that word a little differently. That’s because they have Jacob Ellis on their team.

On Sunday, Aug. 21, Ellis was driving home from church when he saw a three-car accident take place.

Just ahead of him, Ellis saw a car occupied by an elderly couple get struck and catch on fire. He immediately sprang into action.

“They were hit head-on, and the car in front of me was thrown into a ditch,” the 6-3, 255-pound senior defensive end recalled. “I got out of my truck and pulled the two elderly people out of their burning truck to safety.”

Ellis said he didn’t think much about his actions, calling his reaction an instinct.

“My adrenaline was up, and I just knew those people needed help,” Ellis said. “It was probably not until everyone was safe, EMS had arrived, state troopers had arrived and I had a chance to go back to my truck. Then I kind of went into a state of shock because I hadn’t really realized what had happened.”

Westminster head coach John Welty didn’t hear about the accident until the following day when athletic director Tracey Braden brought it up.

 “Our athletic director came out just to watch practice and said, ‘Boy, what about Jacob Ellis?’ I said, ‘What you mean?’ ” Welty recalled.

Braden proceeded to tell the story and the coach was stunned by the details, except one – that Ellis was the player that came to the rescue.

“If there was one guy I had to pick out (on the team) to do that, it would have been Jacob,” Welty said. “He’s a very compassionate young man with high morals.

“I’m happy he was the guy in the car close to that, to be able to do it.”

Thankful that no one lost their life that day, Ellis’ willingness to help that couple – Bob and Pam Maxwell – didn’t end that Sunday afternoon.

“They were in the process of moving when this happened,” Ellis said, adding Bob suffered a broken bone and Pam had a heart attack as a result of the accident.

Because of the injuries suffered, Ellis and a number of his teammates helped the Maxwells with their move a few days later.

“It was a great experience for these kids,” Welty said. “When you help someone, you always feel good.”

Ellis said this experience has taught him to be humble, and it reminded him to try to lead others by example.

“Whenever you have a chance to impact another person’s life in a positive way, you should rise to the occasion,” Ellis said. “Anything you can do to help, you should definitely do it.”

“He does not look for the limelight,” Welty noted. “He just wants to play football, really to be honest with you.”

Now that Ellis has helped the Maxwells, he can focus on mending his own injury. On first day of contact drills, his hand got caught in teammate’s facemask, which resulted in a broken ring finger.

“The very next week, I had surgery. I had pins put in it and I’ve been off of it for about three or four weeks,” Ellis said, adding he’s been working back into practice.

A hard cast will be put on his finger in the coming days and he hopes to make his season debut Saturday when the Blue Jays open UMAC play at Iowa Wesleyan.

“He’s a heck of a football player and one tough nut,” Welty said.

Whenever he is able to get back on the field, the Blue Jays know they can count on their captain to do everything he can to help the team succeed. It’s just his nature.

“I talk about being a ‘flat tire guy.’ I could be on the highway in the middle of the nowhere and get a flat. There’s several people I know I can call and I can count on,” Welty said. “He’s the kind of kid that I could call at 3 in the morning, and he would come out and help me.

“He would do that for anybody.”

Titans start off strong

In a battle of ranked teams, No. 6 UW-Oshkosh took control early and handed No. 18 John Carroll a 33-14 loss. The Titans held John Carroll to just 94 total yards and five first downs in the first half and the offense built a 27-point lead by the third quarter. Brett Kasper passed for 270 yards and two touchdowns, Devon Linzenmeyer rushed for 106 yards and two scores and Eli Wettstein kicked two field goals, including a 50-yarder to pace UW-O.

Number of the week

1,471 – as in the number of combined total yards in the Dubuque-Bethel matchup. Dubuque was actually out-gained, 737-734, but the Spartans lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 10 touchdowns. Conor Feckley completed 31-of-47 passes for a whopping 634 yards and eight touchdowns while Najee Toomer caught 10 balls for 297 yards and five scores to lead Dubuque to the 70-53 victory.

The rest of the West

Nate Boland threw two touchdown passes, including a 9-yard strike to Sam Markham in OT. Then the Dutch converted the two-point conversion to edge Whitworth, 50-49. Ian Kolste passed for 474 yards and three touchdowns for Whitworth. … St. Olaf scored 35 points in the second quarter, taking a 55-7 halftime lead en route to beating Grinnell, 69-14. Six different players registered a touchdown reception for the Oles in the victory. … Eureka got a 142-yard, two-touchdown effort from LeAnthony Reasnover as the Red Devils won their season opener, 21-14. … Alex Arellano scored on a 53-yard pass play with 1:17 to play, but La Verne’s two-point conversion attempt failed and Puget Sound held on for a 31-29 victory. Austin Wagner rushed for 183 yards and two touchdown to lead the Loggers. … Evan Clark caught four passes, racking up 110 yards and three touchdowns, as St. John’s rolled past St. Scholastica, 49-7. … Peter Krien registered eight tackles, including two sacks, and an interception to highlight UW-La Crosse’s 45-14 win over Luther. … Luke Martinez scored three times while rushing for 129 yards in Gustavus Adolphus’ 35-6 win over Westminster (Mo.). … Kyle Larson tossed five touchdown passes in UW-Stevens Point’s 37-14 win at St. Norbert. Defensively Levi Singler logged 2.5 of the team’s five sacks. … Trevor Heitland scored four touchdowns – two scoring runs and two TD receptions – to give Coe a 28-0 lead over UW-River Falls and an eventual 35-20 victory. … Northwestern (Minn.) sacked Augsburg quarterback Raymond Guyton Jr. five times and intercepted him twice during a 14-0 shutout. … Tom Kelly threw five touchdown passes for UW-Platteville, finishing 30-for-44 with 331 yards passing. Quinn Buschbacher and Dan Arnold both had 100-plus receiving yards for the Pioneers in the 35-0 victory over George Fox. … Zach Schwalbach registered two of Hamline’s three interceptions and the Pipers offense tallied 523 yards of offense in a 29-9 win over Crown. … Jay Alston passed for 311 yards and three touchdowns to lead UW-Stout past Simpson, 45-30. … Trailing after one quarter, St. Thomas scored 42 unanswered points to beat UW-Eau Claire, 42-6. Nick Waldvogel caught seven passes for 115 yards and two TDs. … Chazz Middlebrook racked up 196 yards rushing and two touchdowns, leading MacMurray to a 27-21 win at Rockford. … UW-Whitewater outgained The College of New Jersey, 481-186. Drew Patterson scored three times on the ground as the Warhawks cruised 51-3.

Rank ’em

Six teams from the West Region are ranked in the top-10 in this week’s Top 25 poll.

UW-Whitewater and Linfield traded spots in this week’s poll. The Warhawks moved into the No. 2 spot while the idle Wildcats fell to No. 3. Both teams received four first place votes. St. Thomas also received a first place vote, coming in No. 4 in this week’s poll.

UW-Oshkosh, St. John’s and UW-Platteville are ranked Nos. 6 and 8 and 10, respectively to round out the ranked West Region teams.

Wartburg (52), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (15), Whitworth (13) and Dubuque (12) received votes in this week’s poll.

Be heard

Do you have a story idea for the Around the West column? Contact me about approaching milestones, broken records, breakout players or any other storylines in the Region. Or just drop me a note to let me know what you think of the column. All ideas and feedback are welcome. Email me at josh.smith@d3sports.com or follow me on Twitter @By_Josh_Smith.

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Josh Smith has covered Division III sports for more than five years. He writes for multiple publications, including D3football.com beginning in 2012. He has won multiple awards for reporting and photography and lives in southern Wisconsin near UW-Whitewater, where he graduated with a degree in print journalism.

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