The fourth straight victory for Washington & Jefferson’s football team came two days later than expected.
The Presidents routed Thiel College, 55-3, Monday night, two days after the game was rescheduled from it’s original Saturday date.
Last Wednesday, Thiel’s Department of Athletics announced it was canceling all practices and games through Sunday in response to the investigation of a gastrointestinal illness found to affect some of its students.
The delay did not provide any relief for the Tomcats in this Presidents’ Athletic Conference game as Matt Heslin scored three times from the wildcat position and Justin Vickless showed he is more than a reliable backup to the injured Jordan West.
Heslin, a Fort Cherry High School graduate and pitcher on the Presidents’ baseball team, scored three touchdowns from the wildcat formation inside the Thiel 5-yard line.
“The wildcat is something new we put in during camp,” said Heslin. “Coach called me this summer and told me he had this idea for the goal line and he wanted me to run it. I was excited because I thought it was a great way to get onto the field and it was a good way to score. I was excited to get more playing time.”
W&J head coach Mike Sirianni said he thought about using Heslin when watching him pitch.
“Heslin is a senior and he’s a backup, and he handled everything well with that,” said Sirianni. “Now, it’s his time to shine. (The wildcat) was a decision I made watching him in the (NCAA Division III championship). Here he was, such a great competitor, so I thought, ‘Let’s give him a chance to do something.”
Heslin scored on runs of 1, 2 and 2 yards and now has four rushing TDs for the season, tied with West for the team lead.
“You have to be patient waiting for the hole to develop,” Heslin said. “Teams see it and they know what’s coming. I need to let our linemen do their job. All we need is a yard.”
Vickless had starts at tailback last season but West, a Washington High School graduate, won the job in camp. But West was injured in a win over Thomas More two weeks ago and is still a week-to-week decision. Vickless rushed for 130 yards on 8 carries, punctuated by a 71-yard scoring run in the first quarter and a 2-yard run that made it 41-3 at halftime for W&J (2-0, 4-0).
“That was the biggest hole. Our linemen just blew them up,” said Vickless. “I thought I was going to be tracked down. I was peeking to see where they were at. That was my longest run of my college career.”
Cody Hearst caught 4 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown and Jesse Zubik snagged 2 for 49 yards and a score. Ron Tuck added the final score with a 1-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Chris Rosales kicked a 29-yard field goal in the second quarter for the only points for Thiel (1-2, 1-4). … Dalton Day, Jeff Oxner, Billy Drear and Mike Williams each had a sack. Zach Walker, a South Fayette graduate, recovered a fumble, the only turnover in the game.