BELLEVILLE — Talk about a one-man wrecking ball.
Jeff Ward scored five touchdowns -- two rushing, one pass receiving, a punt return and a kickoff return -- in the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers' 42-35 win over the Lindenwood-Belleville Lynx last year.
"They had just one amazing individual performance,'' Lynx coach Jeff Fisher said. "He scored five touchdowns four different ways. Outside of an interception return for a touchdown and fumble return for a touchdown, he had them all.''
Ward is back with the Panthers this year for their matchup against the Lynx on Saturday night at Lindenwood Stadium.
The senior all-purpose weapon racked up 326 all-purpose yards last week in a loss against Lindsey Wilson, with 183 of those coming in the return game. He set a Great Lakes Valley Conference record with 168 kickoff return yards and his seven kickoff returns also tied a conference record.
Ward also caught a school-record 14 receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown.
"I would be remiss if I said our goal was not to keep the ball away from him on special teams,'' Fisher said. "That's not a secret. I would tell anybody that. Anybody who thought I was doing anything otherwise would think I'm a lunatic.
"I've mentioned to our kids often the old sports adage that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over and expecting a different result. At some point in time, you gave to say, 'I'm not going to let superman beat me.'''
Today's game: Kentucky Wesleyan (0-2) at Lindenwood-Belleville (2-1), 6 p.m.
Last meeting: Kentucky Wesleyan beat Lindenwood-Belleville 42-35 last year.
Lynx coach Jeff Fisher: "There wasn't just one opponent or two opportunities to throw in the towel (after falling behind 34-0 during a 41-28 loss to St. Francis last Saturday). There were multiple opportunities there where we could have said, 'Shoot this thing is over.' Our kids never bought into that or believed in that. They just kept going and trying to win the football game.
"We have a very focused group. I think there is a level of embarrassment and frustration among the group, and we want to get back out and prove that we are better than what we showed. That's very good to see. I've very happy with where we are at from a concentration and work-ethic standpoint.''
Lindenwood-Belleville's game plan: Keeping Ward from producing game-changing plays on both offense and special teams.
Key players: Lindenwood-Belleville -- QB Kerry Gibson (43 of 85 for 562 yards with 5 TDs and 5 Ints.), RB Kameron Harris (63 carries for 403 yards and 4 TDs), WR Dylan Bradley (12 catches for 151 yards and 3 TDs), LB Adrian Williams (24 tackles, one sack) and DB Trey Parker (24 tackles, one interception return for a TD); Kentucky Wesleyan -- QB Dalton Oliver (36 of 68 passing for 402 yards with 3 TDs and 3 Ints.); RB-KR Jeff Ward (18 catches for 125 yards and 2 TDs, averaging 21.5 yards per return on both kickoff and punt returns); LB Cody Mills (13 tackles, one sack), FS Cuda Dimmett (15.5 tackles).
Notes: The game is Belleville Appreciation Day. All Belleville residents with an I.D., all students at any of the Belleville high schools with an I.D. and anyone bringing a ticket stub from this week's Belleville East-West game or Mount Vernon-Althoff game will be admitted for free. ... Lynx defensive back Trey Parker was named USCAA Player of the Week after recording eight tackles and returning an interception 43 yards in a loss to St. Francis last week. ... Dimmett and Ward were named preseason All-Americans by USA College Football.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.