SOUTHFIELD, Michigan – The Lawrence Technological University football program closes out its reboot season on Saturday, November 17, with a 1 pm kickoff against Indiana Wesleyan at Wildcat Stadium in Marion, Indiana.
Saturday's matchup marks the second meeting between the start-up programs this fall. The Wildcats (6-3) nabbed the first contest, 38-24, to spoil the Blue Devils' (5-2) initial homecoming on their Southfield campus. After a back-and-forth first half that saw IWU take a 16-10 lead into the locker room, LTU struck early in the third to regain the lead. It'd be short lived as the Wildcats would put up 22-straight points on the way to the decision.
Coming into the final game of the reboot season, Lawrence Tech putting up 44.1 points per game, holding opponents to 20.9, holding an advantage over IWU's +16.3 scoring margin. Indiana Wesleyan's offense has proven to be potent, though, averaging more than 418 yards per contest. Turnovers often turn into the headline, and IWU is sporting a -4 margin while the Blue Devils are on the plus side with +3.
Twenty seven days will have come and gone between games for Lawrence Tech. Following the Blue Devils' first road loss of the season at Northern Michigan on October 20, LTU was slated for a second tilt against Trinity Bible. An injury-ridden Lion team, driving nearly 16 hours one-way, and the Blue Devils agreed to cancel the game for the welfare of the student-athletes on either side. LTU took game one in Ellendale, North Dakota, 68-7, on October 6.
After the loss at NMU, Lawrence Tech moved to 1-1 against NCAA programs this season, having defeated DIII Wisconsin Lutheran on Sept. 8 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
In a game that LTU would like to forget, one bright spot for the Blue Devils last was the breakout performance of Nick Spohn (FR/Phoenix, AZ) at wide receiver. Trailing 30-0 late in the opening frame, Tyler Kulka (FR/Clinton Township, MI) connected with Spohn for 43 yards on a third-and-17 inside their own 10-yard line. Just a few plays later, the former roommates would hook up once again for 30-plus yards. Spohn had three plays for more than 30 yards. He finished the afternoon with six catches and 142 yards – a performance second only to Terrel Cunningham(FR/Northsville, MI)'s 149 yards against Indiana Wesleyan on October 13.
LTU is 10-of-12 (83%) going for it on fourth down this season – pacing the NAIA. Of the 10 successful attempts, four have gone for touchdowns with an average gain of 29.5 yards (31 yards, 37 yards, 26 yards, 24 yards).
Indiana Wesleyan in its first season has played a heavy MSFA conference schedule before its full membership in 2019. The Wildcats have played six opponents that will appear on the conference slate next year, not including the two games against LTU who will also be in the MSFA. IWU is 3-3 in those contests. Two of the matchups came against ranked opponents in No. 23 Siena Heights and No. 15 Concordia - the Wildcats dropped both decisions.
Devodney Alford leads the high-powered ground attack for IWU. Alford is averaging 82.2 yards per contest with nine touchdowns on the year. Joshua McKenzie has chipped in eight scores to go with his 546 yards this season, leading the team with 6.6 yards per carry. Tyrell Phelps has also found pay dirt on eight occasions and is one of three backs with 400-plus yards on the campaign.
Zack Blair is the top arm for IWU, passing for 1,721 yards this year with 13 touchdowns. Blair has thrown nine interceptions. Brayden Smith has been Blair's go-to target, hauling in a team-high 56 catches, more than double the next Wildcat. Smith has 741 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. Defensively, Payton Marksbury has 62 tackles. Ishmael Avila has 7.5 tackles for loss with 2.5 sacks. Seven different student-athletes have a pick on the year.
A stream of Saturday's game will be available through the Indiana Wesleyan Athletics website at IWUWildcats.com.