By Eric Stock
HOLLAND, Mich. - Illinois Wesleyan's defense stymied Hope's high-powered offense, overcoming four turnovers and 95 penalty yards for a 23-13 win that gives the Titans a perfect non-conference season for the fifth year in a row.
The Flying Dutchmen (1-3) managed only 179 yards, nearly 300 short of their season average.
The Titans (3-0) erased their early offensive struggles when Mike Heaton completed a 46-yard pass to Dan O'Neill for a touchdown to put IWU on top. It was the same play IWU successfully executed against Alma in their last game.
Rob Gallik connected with Parker Carroll from 33 yards out to put the Titans up 14-0 in the first quarter.
Wesleyan extended the lead on a 58-yard punt return by Tyrell Bolden set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Cam Blossom to extend the lead to 20-0.
IWU's offense was largely one-dimensional but not by design. The Titans struggled to run the ball, managing only 33 yards on 41 attempts. Blossom led the Titans ground attack with 29 yards on 12 carries.
"We had one half of our football team playing today, it was our defense," IWU coach Norm Eash said.
"Offensively, we kind of laid an egg in the second half. We were disappointed in our play. We came out strong in the first half and just didn't put them away."
Hope drew to within 23-13 on a fumble recovery by Christian Subdon short of the goal line which he then carried into the end zone with 5:07 on the clock. A crucial two-point attempt failed on a bothed snap.
Gallik completed 17 of 30 for 257 yards and one interception.
The Titans open College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin play at Tucci Stadum against Millikin (3-0) on Sept. 29. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
Eric Stock can be reached at email@example.com.