PERU, Neb. – The Peru State football team, still drying their clothing from last week’s 47-7 loss to Grand View on a soggy day in Des Moines, Iowa, are preparing for a defensive battle against William Penn on Saturday.
The Statesmen have the top-ranked defense in terms of yards per game in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. They allow only 250 yards per game, while giving up 18.1 points per game (second in the conference). Penn is fourth in sacks per game at 2.9.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats are fourth in total defense, giving up 360.9 yards per game.
Peru State Head Coach Steve Schneider says the Statemen’s strength will be on defense and the ‘Cats can’t get rattled if things aren’t going their way, like they did against Evangel, Baker and Grand View.
“I think the real key against Penn is be happy with three yards and three yards. Then maybe pop a big play on them once in awhile. Punting is not a bad thing. I kind of see this being a defensive football game and will down to a special teams play.”
Both teams run the triple-option and are ranked #2 and #3 in rushing yards per game in the conference. The Statesmen rush for 264.9 yards per game, while the Bobcats rush for 255.4 yards.
The past two contests between the Bobcats and Statesmen have been decided by four points or less. In 2015, Penn defeated Peru State, 34-31, in the Oak Bowl. The Statesmen also won at home in 2016, 13-9.
Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday and will be broadcast on B103 (103.1 FM, b103.fm and the B103 app)
William Penn at Peru State
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Oak Bowl, Peru
Radio: 103.1 FM, B103.fm and the B103 app
TV: ESPN 3
Storyline: Peru State has lost its last two games to No. 2 Baker and No. 6 Grand View. In those games, the Bobcats were outscored 75-14 in the first half. Now Peru plays defensive-minded William Penn, which is third in the nation in total defense.
Player to watch: Peru QB Travis Carnahan, who has thrown for 757 yards and is second on the team in rushing, will need to move chains against a William Penn defense that allows 84.6 yards rushing a game.
Notable: William Penn won last year’s game 13-9 in a defensive battle. The teams combined for 24 first downs and 406 yards of offense.
South Dakota Mines (4-3) at Chadron State (4-3)
Storyline: Chadron snapped a two-game losing streak last week by scoring 55 points against New Mexico Highlands. The Eagles amassed 610 yards as Derek Jackson and Kevin Coy combined to rush for 316 yards. Mines, winners of two straight, lead the RMAC in total offense (500.9 pg). Mines has gained more than 530 yards each of its last three games.
Player to watch: Chadron’s defense will need to slow Mines QB Jake Sullivan, who has thrown for 1,882 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. He’s also scored nine TDs on the ground.
Notable: The Eagles are glad to stay put this weekend. They traveled nearly 6,600 miles to play their last three games — at Humboldt State, Dixie State and New Mexico Highlands.
Lindenwood (2-5) at Northwest Missouri (7-0)
Storyline: While Northwest keeps rolling along at No. 1 in Division II, Lindenwood comes in on a three-game losing streak. Lindenwood QB Najee Jackson, a Lincoln Southeast graduate, threw for a season-high 367 yards last week in a 41-30 loss to Emporia State.
Player to watch: Northwest QB Zach Martin has thrown for 1,764 yards and 14 touchdowns while completing 63.9 percent of his passes. The Omaha North grad threw three TDs last week.
Notable: Northwest’s defense hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown the past eight games and hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in its last 37 games.
Wayne State (4-3) at Winona State (7-0)
Storyline: After losing to No. 18 Sioux Falls last week, Wayne faces No. 11 Winona. Winona’s balanced offense is led by QB Darren Beenken, who has thrown for 1,238 yards. Winona’s calling card, though, is its defense, which is allowing 11.6 points per game and leads the Northern Sun in turnover margin at plus-12.
Player to watch: Wayne quarterback Zach Osborn is closing in on a milestone as he needs 134 yards to become the second Wildcat to reach 10,000 career passing yards.
Notable: Wayne wants another good start at Winona. Through seven games, Wayne has outscored its opponents 48-3 in the first quarter.
Northeastern State (0-7) at UNK (2-5)
Storyline: The Lopers want to break through against the RiverHawks, who have beaten UNK 31-21 and 31-14 the past two years. It’s been a mighty struggle for NSU as they’ve lost all seven games by at least 24 points.
Player to watch: Sophomore QB Steve Worthing is about to crack UNK’s career top 10 in passing yards, attempts and completions.
Notable: Northeastern hurt the Lopers on the ground the past two years, but this season, UNK ranks 19th in Division II in rush defense (101.4 yards per game).
Hastings (5-2) at Morningside (7-0)
Storyline: No. 4 Morningside has scored at least 70 points each of the past two weeks — it scored TDs on its first nine possessions and piled up 537 yards in the first half against Briar Cliff. Hastings dropped out of the rankings after a double-overtime loss to Dordt. Hastings’ other loss was by three to Dakota Wesleyan.
Players to watch: Hastings will need its backfield duo of QB Anthony Cloyd and running back Tahj Willingham to put up big numbers again. Cloyd passed for 187 yards and rushed for 166 against Dordt, while Willingham carried for 159 and has rushed for at least 100 yards in every game.
Notable: Morningside beat Hastings 62-3 last year for its 13th straight win against the Broncos. The Mustangs piled up 827 yards of total offense.
Northwestern (4-1) at Doane (4-2)
Storyline: No. 15 Northwestern has rebounded with wins over Midland and Dakota Wesleyan since its Sept. 30 loss to Morningside. Doane comes off a bye after losing its previous game to Dordt, 21-16.
Player to watch: Both teams are deep at receiver. One of the best in the matchup is Northwestern’s Levi TeBrink, who is fourth in the GPAC in receptions (32) and receiving yards (602).
Notable: Doane defensive back Cole Wiseman, who is second on the team in tackles, leads the NAIA in interceptions with six.
Briar Cliff (0-8) at Dakota Wesleyan (4-4)
Storyline: Dakota Wesleyan’s offense, which scored a total of 31 points the past two weeks in losses, looks to get back on track against a Briar Cliff defense allowing 52.5 points per game. Wesleyan averages 42.4 points and 562 yards per game.
Player to watch: Wesleyan QB Dillon Turner leads the NAIA in total offense (3,088) and passing yards (2,486).
Notable: Briar Cliff’s Noah Ylagan is 12th in the NAIA in rushing yards (758), 17th in rushing yards per game (108.3) and 22nd in all-purpose yards (862).
Nebraska Wesleyan (0-7) at Buena Vista (3-3)
Storyline: Wesleyan’s defense, which allows 42.1 points per game, will be put to the test again, this time by Buena Vista’s Cole Miller, who is averaging 314 yards passing in IIAC play.
Player to watch: Wesleyan’s offense moves the ball with Shaka Taylor; he’s the team’s leading rusher and receiver. He has 677 yards rushing and 34 catches for 264 yards.
Notable: Wesleyan has turned the ball over 23 times and is minus-11 in turnover margin.