Waynesburg defense throws Saint Vincent for loss
WAYNESBURG – The Waynesburg University football team has made it a habit of winning close games, as their first two victories of the season came by a combined 11 points.
Thanks to an inspired effort from their defense, the Yellow Jackets didn’t have to worry about sweating one out Saturday afternoon in their PAC opener against St. Vincent.
One week after allowing 49 points in a win over Frostburg State, Waynesburg forced three first-half turnovers and finally got their offense going in the second half, rushing for 205 yards in wet conditions en route to a 23-6 win in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference opener at John F. Wiley Stadium.
“It was a tough battle, but I liked the way we played defensively,” said Waynesburg head coach Rick Shepas. “Through three weeks we have seen three different styles of offenses, which will benefit us as the season goes on. Today was just a hard fought, smash-mouth win and we responded to that very well.”
Things didn’t go so easy for the Yellow Jackets (1-0, 3-0) early on, though.
St. Vincent (0-1, 0-2) struck with a big play on their first drive when Andy Borgen hit Matt Duffey on a slant pass that went 63 yards for the opening touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
The Bearcats also moved the ball effectively on their second drive before Yellow Jackets defensive end Brandon Fedorka recovered a fumble on a bad handoff.
Borgen left the game with a separated shoulder after that play and the Yellow Jackets’ defense turned up the pressure.
St. Vincent gained 90 yards on their first two drives, but had only 135 yards the rest of the game, 54 of which came on their final drive when the outcome was already decided. In addition, the Bearcats had only three first downs from the middle of the first quarter until late in the fourth quarter, with two of those coming as the result of Waynesburg penalties.
“We stressed a better defensive performance all week in practice,” said Fedorka, who recovered two fumbles and had a quarterback sack. “After they took the quick lead, everyone tightened things up and we played pretty well. It was a chilly and rainy day. Good for defensive football and we needed to give a solid performance like that.”
While the Waynesburg defense got things together, the offense came out of the gates slowly.
The Yellow Jackets went three-and-out on five of their first seven first-half possessions, but they did find the end zone late in the second quarter.
After a bad punt by St. Vincent, quarterback Carter Hill hit Andrew English with a 14-yard touchdown pass to give the Yellow Jackets a 7-6 halftime lead.
Waynesburg didn’t exactly come out hot to start the second half either, but got things figured out late in the third quarter when they scored on three straight possessions.
Hill hit Mike Ferraro with a nine-yard touchdown pass, Alex Henry kicked a 33-yard field goal and Jerry Lawman capped off the scoring with a 20-yard touchdown run.
“Because of the conditions, we had to scale things back just a bit,” said Shepas. “We didn’t throw it as much as we usually would have and that prevented Carter from getting in a good rhythm. But those two scoring drives were all on him. He had total control out there in the no-huddle and he came up big on a day where it was tough to throw the ball.”