BLOOMINGTON — Starting blocks are common on the all-weather track at Tucci Stadium. Morgan Alexander didn’t need any Saturday on the artificial turf the track borders.
He started plenty fast.
Illinois Wesleyan’s senior put the “run” in running back, rushing for 62 yards on five carries on the first series and going on to pile up a career-best 218 yards and two touchdowns in 28 attempts. Brandon Bauer and Zach Walsh hooked up for three TD passes as well in the Titans’ 44-28 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin victory over Elmhurst.
“It was a great day. It felt good,” said Alexander, whose previous best was 142 yards on two occasions last year. “I thought we clicked for the first time all season in the run game. I owe a lot to the guys up front. I can’t get one yard without those guys.”
IWU totaled 296 yards passing and 282 rushing in its fifth straight win, boosting its record to 5-1 and a league-leading 5-0 in the CCIW. The No. 18-ranked Titans overcame four turnovers and seven penalties for 86 yards before a crowd of 1,500.
Alexander capped off the game’s first drive with a 31-yard touchdown run. He later scored on a 1-yard run.
“I thought we came out and established our offense right away. You want to establish the run and we did that,” IWU coach Norm Eash said. “I thought we blocked very well at the beginning of the game. Morgan saw those seams and made some big runs and really got our offense going a little bit.”
Elmhurst (1-5, 0-5) tied it at 7-all when Sean Kelly scooped up a fumble by Bauer on a sack and ran 20 yards for a score.
Shortly thereafter Bauer was intercepted in the end zone by Sean Jay, but the Titans’ next three possessions resulted in Bauer-to-Walsh touchdowns.
The junior duo had scores of 1, 30 and 16 yards. When Patrick Tata tacked on a 23-yard field goal late in the half, IWU had a 30-7 halftime cushion.
Walsh ended with six catches for 84 yards.
“We have so many weapons. None of us really ever know who’s going to go off,” Walsh said. “We had some good coverages for me. I did work the middle of the field a little bit. There were a couple of plays that put me in the right spot and made it look pretty easy.”
Bauer was 19 of 29 passing for 291 yards and the three TDs, with Jack Healy grabbing five passes for 88 yards.
Yet, it all started with Alexander.
“We thought we could impose our will up front,” Alexander said. “We believe in the guys we have and I think we did that a little bit today.”
IWU led 37-7 in the third quarter, but Elmhurst scored on three second-half Orlando Hernandez touchdown passes. That came a week after Carthage rallied late from 14 points down to force overtime in an eventual IWU win.
“There were a lot of positives today,” Eash said. “We just didn’t close the door on them and we have to do that. We saw it a little bit in the Carthage game and a little bit of that today. We can’t do that against the teams we’re going to have the next three weeks (Washington University, Millikin and North Central).”
Former LeRoy star Bryce Dooley scored on a 7-yard run for the Titans, who had interceptions from Trevor Staley and Nico Gubenko.
IWU outgained Elmhurst 578-241 yards, with Ryan Swift topping the tackle chart with nine. Robert Hanrahan and Chance Hilliard each had two tackles for loss.
The Titans play Washington University (5-1, 4-1) next Saturday in a 6 p.m. game at St. Louis.