It was a stunning turn of events on Saturday at Mapleleaf Athletic Complex. After stifling Martin Luther throughout the second half, the Iowa Wesleyan defense gave up 21 straight points in the fourth quarter to lose their homecoming game in dramatic fashion.
IW was in a 7-0 hole early after a Martin Luther passing touchdown made it 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Tigers bounced right back to tie the game on a 12-yard touchdown pass from DeMarcus Collins to Jacob Santos to start the second, and the IW defense played well enough to get the home fans thinking upset.
Martin Luther couldn’t get their triple-option offense off the ground in the first half, and they looked just as anemic in the third quarter. IW had offensive troubles of their own, but the Tigers did take a 10-7 lead in the third quarter, getting a 34-yard field goal from Jeremy Scholbrock.
The Tigers scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter. Scholbrock kicked a 33-yard field goal to put the Tigers up 13-7. Grequenc Coger recovered a Martin Luther fumble to get the ball back at the Knights’ 22 yard-line. Collins hit Dylan McDonald on a two-yard touchdown pass with 8:56 remaining, and Holder caught the two-point conversion to make it 21-7.
Everything went downhill from there, starting with a touchdown drive that kept Martin Luther into the game. Knight quarterback Zach Bloomquist hit Harrison Hochmuth with a 27-yard touchdown pass on third and nine, and the PAT cut the Tiger lead to 21-14 with 7:03 remaining.
IW was forced to punt on the next drive, and Martin Luther drove down to tie the game on another touchdown pass. Bloomquist hit Austin DeNoyer with a 28-yard touchdown pass with 4:10 remaining, and all-of-the-sudden, it was 21-21 after the extra point.
The Tigers went three-and-out on the next drive, and that led to a stunning trick play by the Martin Luther offense on the first play of the drive. The Knights ran an end-around wide receiver pass, and Joshua Schroeder hit Josh Arndt on a 74-yard strike that gave Martin Luther its first lead of the second half.
The Tigers still had a shot to come back and tie, trailing 28-21 with 2:02 left in the game. They were out of timeouts, however, and an early penalty had them pinned inside the 10-yard line. Collins hit Akenyon Bagley on a first down pass on fourth-and-three, but the Tigers could never get back into scoring position.
“It’s really disappointing,” IW head coach Michael Richtman said after the game. “We take a 21-7 lead with nine minutes in the game and we had some guys lose some focus. (Martin Luther) made some plays. A couple of those plays we had pretty decent coverage on, (but) they made some plays and we didn’t.”
Collins finished the game 16-37 for 191 yards and two scores. He also led the team in rushing with 67 yards. Stafford Lewis had 51 yards on the ground to lead the running backs.
Holder had four catches for 93 yards in the loss. Santos finished with 37 yards and a touchdown. Bagley had 32 yards receiving, and McDonald finished with 13 yards and a score.
Adrian Walker had 10 tackles to lead the Tiger defense. Craig Wrenn had an interception and Coger finished with one fumble recovery.
IW will have a bye next week before traveling to MacMurray College on Saturday, Oct. 20.