BLOOMINGTON — Illinois Wesleyan's team motto coming into the season was "Sense of Urgency." The Titans have it printed on T-shirts.

Trevor Koepke certainly had that when another Wisconsin-Whitewater errant snap came from IWU's 1-yard line with less than a play to minute in last Saturday's opening game thriller.

Koepke sprinted to pounce on the ball, his second fumble recovery of the game, and helped preserve the Titans' 17-10 upset victory over No. 3-ranked Whitewater.

"We were thinking this could be the ball game and we have to give everything we had," said Koepke of the final goal-line stand. "I was shocked the first time (with a bad snap) on the 1-yard line. The second time happening was even crazier."

Well, the Titans are ready to order another T-shirt.

In addition to "Sense of Urgency," IWU coach Norm Eash said "Anything is Possible" also has been adopted by the No. 14-ranked Titans heading into Saturday's 1 p.m. nonconference game against Nebraska Wesleyan (0-1) at Tucci Stadium.

"I think that will drive us for the rest of the season," said Eash of the new saying. "Our players are smart. They won't look past anybody. We respect Nebraska Wesleyan's program. Those kids are being prepared to beat us.

"I'm sure their coach is saying this is the time to play (Illinois) Wesleyan. They'll be looking by us and looking to open conference play with North Central (on Sept. 16). As a team, we can't allow that to happen."

Koepke, a sophomore cornerback, was involved in a lot of key plays against Whitewater in his first start.

The Tinley Park High School graduate got a personal foul on a blitz for hitting Whitewater's quarterback below the knees in the pocket, a new NCAA rule this season. Koepke also was flagged for pass interference after going over a receiver's back in the end zone.  

Koepke gave credit to senior linebacker Brinton Wilkey for his first fumble recovery in the second quarter. Wilkey tackled Whitewater halfback Drew Patterson before he could get to the loose ball, allowing Koepke to track it down at the 26. 

"If I get there the fastest, I get there the fastest," said Koepke. "As long as someone on our team gets it, I'm happy."

Eash is happy Koepke is done with wrestling. Koepke was a wrestler in high school, competing at 132 pounds as a senior, which kept him from adding weight. He's now up to 165.

"We're still trying to get some weight on him. He's very athletic and a playmaker," said Eash. "He had a great spring and got everyone's attention. Him going to Japan (for the Titans' exhibition game in May), it helped him immensely getting that extra game."

Akin is OK: Eash said senior linebacker Josh Akin was fine and will start against Nebraska Wesleyan. Akin had to be helped off the field in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a significant leg injury.

Eash said there were no other injuries to report, which is somewhat surprising.

"The speed and physicality of this game was completely different. I don't know if people realized that who watched," he said. "We beat a really good football team because we played at the same level they did."

Warner will play: There is no debate this week about IWU's starting quarterback. Sophomore Brandon Bauer played the entire game against Whitewater after a preseason battle with senior Jack Warner.

However, Eash said it would be a mistake to forget about Warner.

"Brandon was used to the speed of the game. It was only fair to your offensive team," said Eash. "But I tell you, he (Warner) is going to get in ball games and play."

Follow Jim Benson on Twitter: @Pg_Benson


Sports Writer for The Pantagraph.

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