BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- The Illinois Wesleyan football team opened their 2017 season with a stunning 17-10 win over No. 3-ranked UW-Whitewater at Tucci Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2.
The Titans trailed 3-0 before taking a 7-3 lead on a 21-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Brandon Bauer to Jack Healy with 3:51 left before halftime. That capped a 12 play, 71 yard drive.
IWU went ahead 10-3 with a 40-yard field goal by Anthony Sciarini with 10:38 left in the third quarter but the Warhawks battled back to tie the game at 10-10 with 4:35 left in the third on a 21-yard pass play from Cole Wilber to Canton Larson.
The deciding score came with 8:02 to play in the game as Bauer connected with Healy again from 5 yards out and the extra point kick by Sciarini made the score 17-10.
Whitewater sacked Bauer on back-to-back plays on the Titans' next drive, forcing IWU to punt and giving the Warhawks the ball just short of midfield. Wilber converted a third-and-11 with a 16-yard run down to the Titan 1, setting up first-and-goal with 1:03 left. But the Warhawks put Merrick Gentile in to take the snap, and he was unable to control a high snap, fumbling the ball which was recovered by Trevor Koepke, allowing IWU to run out the clock.
The loss is Whitewater's third nonconference loss since 2005 and its first season-opening loss since the Warhawks lost to Mount Union to open the 2003 campaign.
Bauer completed 17 of 32 passes for 128 yards as IWU amassed 259 yards of total offense (131 rushing). Morgan Alexander rushed for 94 yards on 15 carries to pace IWU.
Healy made five total catches for 61 yards.
Whitewater collected 300 yards of offense (258 passing and 42 rushing) as the Warhawks were stifled inside the 5 yard line on two occasions by bad snaps, losing 25 yards and 9 yards on two separate plays. Wilber finished with 22 completions in 37 tries for the 258 yards. Josh Ringelberg had 33 yards on six carries to lead UWW and Dylan Bernard had 63 yards on three carries.
Illinois Wesleyan has its second of six home games when it hosts Nebraska Wesleyan at 1 p.m. next Saturday, Sept. 9.