Clay Sidenbender | Echo
Living up to the hype, the first Grant Country rivalry game between Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) and Taylor University on Sept. 1 ended with a Trojan win, 43-31.
Despite the threat of a 14-point deficit at the end of the first quarter, Head Coach Ron Korfmacher said his team prepared during the off-season for a sticky situation during game time.
"We know when we're down," Korfmacher said. "Whether we're down 15 or 20, the mantra or thought is that, 'Okay, we need seven and we need a stop.'"
Korfmacher said some teams try to overreach by shooting for 14 points, but a team only needs to focus on the next play.
The Taylor offense bit back with a quick five play, 55-yard drive for a touchdown, early in the second quarter. A couple possessions later, senior wide receiver Daniel Boy caught a 63-yard touchdown pass to tie with 2:55 left to go in the half.
"I remember seeing the safety bite on the play action fake," Boy said. "Once that happened, I knew it was going to be a big play."
The pass from senior quarterback Everett Pollard to senior wide receiver Grant Hohlbein ended up with another touchdown with less than a minute left to play in the half, with the half ending 21-14.
Taylor's defense emerged in the second half to hold off the Wildcat pass attack. One of the key playmakers on IWU's young team, sophomore wide receiver Dontea Henderson, gave the defense a run for their money.
"He definitely had a good game and made some good plays," junior defensive back TJ Swore said. "But there were things that we should've been able to stop."
Swore said the defense gave Henderson too many open opportunities by not executing a play well or missing a tackle.
However, Swore made a big tackle behind the line when Henderson tried to run a jet sweep.
"They ran a jet sweep to my side and I read it right away," Swore said. "And (I) dropped him for a loss . . . I remember getting pretty hype after that one."
Henderson ended up with two touchdowns and 178 yards receiving, but it was sophomore quarterback Zac Saltzgaber's two scores that kept the Trojans on top.
Saltzgaber substituted in for Pollard twice during the third quarter even after Pollard's successful day with three touchdowns, 190 yards passing and 56 yards rushing.
"Some of it was planned," Korfmacher said. "We had some plans where Saltzgaber was going to get on the field for a couple things, but towards the end we made a change (to be) more precautionary than anything."
Korfmacher declined to comment on why Pollard was taken out of the game for good the second time.
Regardless, Saltzgaber delivered the exclamation point to an exciting first win of the season and spoiled plans for the Wildcats' first ever win in program history. With one team down, the Trojans shifted their focus to the Butler University game the following Saturday.
"We're going two totally different paths playing Butler now," Korfmacher said days before the Butler game. "Quality team, well coached, highly disciplined, good special teams (and a) very special receiver. Better than any receiver than we saw last week."
Korfmacher said he told his team before the season the Trojans needed to get better on both sides of the football, before they could play Butler.
Although the team hoped to be the first Taylor team to beat the Bulldogs, the preparation was not enough, with the Bulldogs beating the Trojans, 31-17. Pollard and Saltzgaber struggled to connect with receivers in the end zone, settling with two touchdowns in the running game.
Next, the Trojans travel to Deerfield, Illinois where they play the winless Trinity International University football team. Taylor looks to regain confidence and repeat the success they found in their first game against IWU.