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IWU football notices no change after first loss of season

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Kraig Ladd 101009
Wesleyan quarterback Kraig Ladd keeps the ball and is tackled by Millikin's Ben McNeely Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009, during the second quarter in Bloomington. (The Pantagraph/CARLOS T. MIRANDA)

BLOOMINGTON - Illinois Wesleyan's football practice on Tuesday looked like practice on previous Tuesdays this season to Keely Flood.

Coming off the Titans' first loss of the season, Flood was glad to see there was no change.

"We know that we still can attain the goals we set at the beginning of the season, which is a conference championship," the Titans' senior center Wednesday. "You wouldn't know it (the loss) at all if you were out at practice."

IWU's four-game season-opening winning streak ended last Saturday with a 19-13 homecoming loss to Millikin. There is no time for the Titans to feel sorry for themselves as they face Augustana (3-2, 1-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Rock Island.

"We're still looking forward to the big picture," said IWU junior defensive end Ryan Jenkins.

The College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin title is the big picture. IWU, also 1-1 in the CCIW, knows it can do no worse than tie for the crown by winning its final five games.

However, the Titans also realize they can't suffer another breakdown like they experienced against Millikin. IWU couldn't overcome three interceptions, nearly 100 yards in penalties and three blocked kicks (a punt, conversion and field goal).

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"Obviously there's no margin for error right now," said Flood, a three-year offensive line starter. "We also know we have to come out and execute every week. We're still in the conference race like everyone else. It's pretty much open for everyone. That's another reason why practice was so good (Tuesday)."

IWU coach Norm Eash believes his 19 seniors won't let the Millikin loss linger.

"We have great leadership and our seniors do a great job," said Eash. "I told the players you can't get rid of the empty feeling after a loss until you play the next game. We have to go to Augie and play mistake-free football because they're going to be a tough opponent for us."

Ladd hand better: Quarterback Kraig Ladd was in for only one play in the second half after bruising his throwing left hand on a Millikin helmet. Ladd's pass was intercepted and went for a touchdown to give Millikin a 17-0 lead in the second quarter.

Eash said the swelling has gone down in Ladd's hand. The IWU coach expects the senior, who upped his career passing yardage to 5,036, to be ready for Augustana.

"Unless we feel like he can't perform up to the level we need him to he'll be dressed ready to go and we'll be just like always with two quarterbacks," said Eash. "Brien (Rooney) did a nice job coming in."

Rooney accounted for almost 300 yards of total offense, completing 17 of 33 attempts for 202 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The junior also rushed for 91 yards.

Sophomore wide receiver Joey Driver had a breakout game with 11 receptions for 161 yards and two TDs. However, Driver re-injured a knee and is questionable for Augustana. Guard James Mosterd's availability also is in question after hurting his neck.

Costly penalties: IWU was whistled for some crucial unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against Millikin. Eash made it clear to his team those won't be tolerated.

"That's not the standard we have for our football team. Our players know that," said Eash. "It's very uncharacteristic for our team. In the heat of battle, I know young men are working so hard they become frustrated. That emotion played into some of the decisions they were making."


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