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Aaron Wagoner (#40) tackles Concordia's John Popa (#80) in Saturday's IWC win. Photo courtesy Emily Situ.
Football - Sun, Nov. 13, 2011
The Iowa Wesleyan football team closed its season on a high note for the first time in many years, defeating Concordia (Mich.) 42-14 in its season finale Saturday.

The Tigers wrapped up their season with a win in their finale for the first time since 1998, capping off an improved season with a 4-7 overall record. The four wins are the most in a season since Wesleyan went 4-7 in 1997.

IWC never trailed in the game, though the Tigers weren't able to put away the Cardinals until the second half. Wesleyan intercepted four Concordia passes in the second half, including a pair by Napoleon Johnson (Jr.-San Jose, Calif.). Johnson returned one of those 35 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter to give IWC a 28-7 lead.

Wesleyan gained 460 yards of offense, including another big day from quarterback Kevin McConnell (Jr.-Kansas City, Mo.). McConnell threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns, and also rushed nine times for 37 yards and two more touchdowns.

Among McConnell's TD passes was a 53-yard scoring pass to Ridge Hobbs (So.-New London, Iowa). Hobbs recorded his 11th touchdown reception of the season and finished the game with four catches for 92 yards, finishing the season 47 yards shy of 1,000 yards receiving for the season. His 953 yards receiving this year ranks fourth in a season in school history.

The Tigers opened the scoring when McConnell hit LiMichael Peeples (So.-Conyers, Ga.) for a 15-yard touchdown in the first quarter. A touchdown pass also closed out the scoring as Chase Taylor (Jr.-LaPorte, Colo.) caught a two-yard pass from McConnell in the fourth quarter.

McConnell also added a one-yard quarterback sneak in the second quarter as IWC led 14-0 at halftime. The two teams ended up combining for 28 points in the third quarter, as Concordia bookended the touchdowns by Hobbs and Johnson with a pair of touchdown passes. Both drives came when CUAA took over the ball in IWC territory, including one after a Tiger fumble.

Wesleyan went ahead 35-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter, as McConnell broke free on a quarterback draw and raced down the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown run. The Tigers also had a chance to add a final touchdown late in the fourth when Christian Palmer-Newton (Fr.-Camarillo, Calif.) intercepted a Concordia pass near midfield and was on his way to a touchdown before tripping and falling on his own with no one around him inside the 10-yard line.

Kenyon Morgan (Fr.-Gainesville, Texas) led IWC in rushing, carrying the ball 18 times for 80 yards. Buddy Guastella (Jr.-Yorba Linda, Calif.) caught nine passes for 58 yards, and Taylor added seven catches for 39 yards. Matthew Vidales (Jr.-Los Angeles, Calif.) also added six catches for 45 yards.

The Tiger defense held the Cardinals to 281 yards and 14 first downs. Aaron Wagoner (Jr.-Roseville, Calif.) and Richard Silva (Jr.-Kirkland, Wash.) both led IWC with six tackles each and Charles Thomas (Jr.-Fontana, Calif.) also added an interception.

Scott Galland completed 16 of 37 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns for the Cardinals, located in Ann Arbor, Mich. Concordia hung tough while trying to avoid its 11th loss this season in its first year of varsity football, but the Cardinals finished 0-11 for the season.

Box score IWC 42 CUAA 14