Strong Defensive Effort and Balanced Attack Leads No. 18 Evangel to 19-7 Season Opening Win at William Penn

Strong Defensive Effort and Balanced Attack Leads No. 18 Evangel to 19-7 Season Opening Win at William Penn

The Basics                                                                                                                                   
Score: #18 Evangel 19; William Penn 7 | Box Score
Records: Evangel (1-0)
Location: Oskaloosa, Iowa | Statesmen Community Stadium

OSKALOOSA, Iowa – A balanced attack and team effort saw the 18th-ranked Evangel football team open the season with a 19-7 win Saturday afternoon at William Penn.

Both defenses shined in the season opener for Evangel and William Penn. Neither team, however, managed to take advantage in the first half with a 7-7 deadlock at halftime.

The Crusaders jumped out to the early lead late in the first quarter when Nicos Oropeza broke free to score from 21-yards out. The sophomore transfer raced down the Evangel sideline with 3:37 left in the quarter to give the Crusaders a 7-0 lead.

William Penn would find the end zone two possessions later after taking advantage of an Evangel interception, the lone turnover of the game for the Crusaders. Tyler Wood connected with Jeremiah Benson from 14-yards out on a jump ball to tie the game at 7-7.

From there the defenses for both teams would stiffen creating a scoreless third quarter.

However, with 11:16 left in the fourth quarter Zeke Kuyawa would connect with Jansen Acklin over the middle for a 25-yard touchdown strike. Acklin would finish with 106 yards receiving, the first 100-yard receiving game of his career.

After another defensive stop that included a seven-yard sack by Josh Keys, Evangel needed just two plays for Kuyawa to find Acklin for their second touchdown hookup of the game. This time from 69-yards out, Kuyawa would finish 7-of-10 for 162 yards and two scores.

Kuyawa also led the Evangel rushing attack with 11 carries for 80 yards, followed by Oropeza with 11 rushes for 67-yards and one touchdown.

Sam Buckner and Joshua Tips joined Acklin and Oropeza with multiple catches in the win.

Defensively, Evangel held the Statesmen to 150 yards of total offense including 41 yards passing and 109 yards on the ground.

Andrew Poppen led the Crusaders with nine tackles, while Dominic Swillum added seven tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss. Joining Keys with one of two Evangel sacks, Myles Williams also added a tackle for a loss, while Athanie Leeviraphan's interception was the only takeaway for the Crusader defense.

The win for Evangel breaks a 2-2 tie in the series with William Penn and gives the Crusaders two straight wins over the Statesmen.

Evangel makes its home debut next Saturday, Sept. 7 against Peru State. Kickoff from Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Missouri is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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