FULTON, Mo. - Westminster football defeated Iowa Wesleyan in an overtime battle to complete the season with a perfect 5-0 record at home for the first time since 2011.
Westminster also ends the seaon with 4-game win streak to end the year.
The Blue Jays end the season 6-4 overall and 6-3 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
Westminster honored its nine seniors before the game, including Chase Abbington, Latif Adams, Sean Freeman, Antoine Harris, Clinton Holden, Kole Rackers, Zach Roseman, Phillip Shoults, and Nolan Wood.
"We are going to miss all of our seniors," said Westminster Head Coach John Welty. "They went out like champions today. Chase made big plays, Latif scores the winning touchdown, the guys up front blocked for them, and the defensive guys made big plays. It puts a cherry on top of their careers and I'm happy and proud of them all."
The Tigers started off the scoring after a slow start from Westminster, adding a 48-yard rush to make the score 7-0 after one quarter.
"We came out flat in the first half," said Welty. "Our defense played well but our offense was flat. Wesleyan is athletic and played great defense. We didn't block well but we did keep our composure. We kept jabbing and things turned out our way. We preached all week about how to be champions, and championship teams win when they don't play well. That's what we did today."
The Blue Jays got on the board with under a minute remaining in the half with a 35-yard Abbington reception from Westminster quarterback Trent White, tying the game at seven apiece at the half.
Iowa Wesleyan again scored in the third quarter, the lone score from either team before an eventful fourth quarter that resulted in three total scores.
Adams scored his first touchdown of the game with a 19-yard run in the fourth quarter to tie the game back at 21. Iowa Wesleyan again scored a go-ahead touchdown with five minutes remaining. Westminster took up two minutes on its next drive, posting four incomplete passes to give the ball back to the Tigers. The Blue Jay defense came up with three big stops, including tackles from Zach Roseman, Jackson Ringhausen, and Darren Rice, to give the offense the ball back and a final chance to score.
With under one minute remaining, White threw an incomplete pass to Kidd Sutherlin for the first down. However, for the second down with 45 seconds left in the game, White connected with Abbington running a slant route who made the quick catch and turned to run 73 yards for the touchdown to tie the game with the clock winding down. Brad Hammel was a perfect three-for-three in extra points on the day.
The Tigers, having one chance to win the game in regulation, were stopped by a sack from Ben Holt for a loss of nine yards, ending the game and sending Westminster to overtime.
Iowa Wesleyan received the ball first on Westminster's 25 yard line to attempt to make a score before the Blue Jays would get a chance. Antoine Harris came up with a pass breakup to save a touchdown catch. The Tiger drive ended with yet another sack from Westminster from Holt and DJ Gerhart, giving the ball to the Blue Jays.
White's first pass of the possession was a 24-yard completion to Abbington, who caught the ball on the one yard line before being pushed out of bounds. Westminster then handed the ball off to their senior running back, Latif Adams, for the one-yard rush and game-winning score on his last game as a Blue Jay.
"Rushing the ball was hard today but we know that when we need it, we give it to Latif," said Welty. "He put us on his back and carried us into that win. I am so happy for him. The plays you remember the most are your last and I'm happy he gets that great memory."
White went 12-32 passing with 216 yards, adding 114 rushing yards.
Abbington led the way in receiving yards with 154 on five catches.
The Blue Jay defense was full of big plays, including three sacks from Holt, two back-to-back sacks from Clayton Bristol. Gerhart and Rice each came up with assisted sacks. Jackson Ringhausen led the way in tackles with seven total, including five solo.
"Clayton and Ben were impressive today and they are both underclassmen," said Welty. "They were both double-teamed and still camae up with big plays when we needed them."
"This season was a lot of fun," said Welty. "We've turned a corner in our program with new coaches, new players on board and our offense and defenses coming together. I give all the credit to our coaches and players for this great season."