ROCK ISLAND — Morgan Alexander ran for 142 yards on 27 carries. He also caught three passes for another 32 yards. He scored two touchdowns, one running and one receiving.
It was quite a day's work for the junior tailback.
Yet like the rest of his Illinois Wesleyan teammates, Alexander wasn't exactly thrilled with the Titans' performance Saturday. IWU, ranked No. 12 in the D3football.com poll, couldn't put Augustana away until late in a 28-10 victory in a College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin game at Lindberg Stadium.
“In a way that's good. We have high expectations for ourselves,” said Alexander. “We aim for perfection and when you fall short that can be frustrating. It's good (being upset) to a degree as long as you channel that in the right way.”
Still, IWU coach Norm Eash wanted his players to appreciate improving to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the CCIW. After last week's upset victory at Wheaton, Eash warned the Titans to expect their opponents' best in the last five games.
“I want them to be happy with the win, but I don't know if they should be satisfied with the way we played,” said Eash. “That's not to say we didn't do some good things. But if we're a team that wants to win the conference we have to be able to not stop ourselves. We have to get that corrected.”
IWU had several long plays negated by penalties, including quarterback Brandon Bauer's 60-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. The Titans were penalized eight times for 92 yards.
Bauer completed 12 of 26 attempts for 137 yards and three TDs. The Titans had 320 yards of total offense.
Augustana (1-5, 1-3) also became the first team to score a rushing touchdown this season against the Titans.
The Vikings took the opening kickoff and went 65 yards in 15 plays. Austin Chausee scored on a 1-yard run and Jacob Stytz's conversion gave the hosts a 7-0 lead with 7:28 left in the first quarter.
Augustana threw only one pass on the first series as freshman quarterback Alek Jacobs used his feet to gain 38 yards on the drive.
“It was multiple things,” said IWU linebacker Brinton Wilkey Jr. of the Vikings' scoring drive. “The running quarterback definitely had a factor in it. We made a couple adjustments on the back end and our reads. We got everything figured out pretty much after that first series.”
Indeed they did. Augustana gained only 97 yards of total offense the rest of the game.
IWU answered the Vikings' opening drive by going 77 yards in 12 plays. On third-and-goal from the 1, Bauer rolled out and found Dennis Bresingham in the end zone. Patrick Tata's kick tied the game at 7-all with 48 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Titan defense then forced a punt. A high snap forced Augustana punter Alex Bryan to try and run, but Chance Hilliard dropped him for an 11-yard loss to give IWU great field position at the Vikings' 37.
It took the Titans only three plays to grab a 14-7 lead. Alexander broke free for an 18-yard touchdown run.
“I got a great block from our guard (Jack Moroni) and then just hit it outside,” said Alexander.
IWU put together an 80-yard drive at the end of the half. Bauer scrambled for 12 yards on fourth-and-6 to keep the march going. Three plays later, Bauer hit Alexander on a swing pass for a 2-yard TD and 21-7 lead with 31 seconds left until intermission.
The Titans had not scored three touchdowns in a game since a 42-21 victory over Nebraska Wesleyan on Sept. 9. But IWU wanted more and had another 30 minutes to iron out some wrinkles.
Instead, the Titans made only two first downs while going into a stiff wind in the third quarter. Augustana cut the gap to 21-10 when Stytz, who missed a 47-yard field goal earlier in the quarter, connected from 27 yards with 1:12 left.
Augustana had a couple chances to get closer in the fourth quarter. However, the Titans' defense stiffened. Jacobs gained 74 yards rushing on 22 carries, but was only 10 of 21 for 77 yards while taking several hard hits.
“We knew once we shut down the quarterback read (option) game we were going to be fine because they didn't have the best passing game,” said Wilkey, who had six tackles.
IWU scored its lone second-half touchdown after a short Augustana punt into the wind gave the Titans the ball at the Vikings' 36 midway through the fourth quarter. Bauer found Jack Healy with a 13-yard TD pass with 5:09 left.
“We banged heads with a really good football team for a long time,” said Augustana coach Steve Bell. “The issue was we got down two scores in the second quarter which is a tough scenario to be in because they weren't going to give a whole lot.”
Linebacker Jordan Hassan, who was the CCIW Defensive Player of the Week against Wheaton, paced IWU with 13 tackles. Safety Trevor Staley had seven.
The Titans face Carroll at 1 p.m. next Saturday for homecoming at Tucci Stadium.