First photo: Wesleyan defensive back Jermichael Kelly (22) and defensive end Jonas Celian (20) celebrate Kelly’s interception return for a touchdown during the second half of Saturday’s game against Urbana (Ohio), a 33-21 Wesleyan win.
Second photo: Wesleyan wide receiver Donte Boston (2) tries to make a leaping around the defense of Urbana’s Jalen Crosby (5) in the corner of the end zone during the first half of Saturday’s game. Boston could not haul in the pass, but did finish with five receptions for 95 yards in the Bobcat victory.
Photos by ANDREW REINER/The Record Delta
BUCKHANNON — The West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats saw a 20-point lead dwindle all the way down to six points Saturday before a pick-six from cornerback Jermichael Kelly turned the tide in the team’s second straight win, a 33-21 defeat of the Urbana (Ohio) Blue Knights.
After scoring their second unanswered touchdown to cut the Wesleyan lead to 20-14, Urbana regained possession after a Wesleyan missed field goal with a chance to tie or take the lead. However, Wesleyan defensive ends Jonas Celian and Brian Vukela teamed up for a 7-yard sack and a 6-yard tackle for loss on consecutive plays, forcing Urbana to pass on third-and-23 from their own 9-yard line.
When Urbana quarterback D.J. Mendenhall fired his pass to the left sideline, the ball sailed clear of any Blue Knight receivers and into the arms of Kelly, who returned the interception 21 yards for a touchdown and a more comfortable 26-14 Wesleyan lead.
“I think we were actually in cover-one and [Mendenhall] just threw a bad ball,” Wesleyan head coach Jonas Jackson said of the play. “[Kelly] was in good position and [Mendenhall] threw the ball late. We tell our quarterbacks all the time, ‘If you throw the ball early, nobody’s ready; if you throw the ball late, bad things happen.’ The kid just made a bad throw and our kid made a big play, and there you have it.”
Saturday’s win was the second straight for the Bobcats, who improved to 2-3 on the season. Saturday’s game also marked the Bobcats’ final non-conference game of the season and the last time they will meet Urbana as non-conference opponents, as both teams prepare to move into the newly-formed Mountain East Conference next season.
The Wesleyan offense out-gained Urbana by a 421-369 margin and converted eight of their 23 third-down chances — marking the second straight week on which they converted 35 percent of third-down opportunities — while Urbana went just 5-for-18 on third down.
“I think we’re just becoming a different football team,” Jackson remarked. “We’ve got nine new starters on offense and it takes time to get these guys going, but it just says how resilient our players are. I thought today they definitely came out and did a good job for us.”
Wesleyan quarterback Nate Montana threw for 341 and three touchdowns, going 27-for-56 through the air with one interception. Receivers Donte Boston and Chase Blackwell both finished just shy of 100 yards receiving, with 95 and 94 yards, respectively.
Wesleyan opened the scoring Saturday on their second drive of the game, needing only four plays to cover 60 yards. Montana threw a short pass to running back Nyquan McGirt, who turned up the left sideline and covered 32 yards on the touchdown.
Kasper Bernild added the extra point on the McGirt touchdown and then widened the lead to 13-0 with a pair of first-half field goals.
Celian intercepted a Mendenhall pass on the ensuing drive and returned it to the Wesleyan 46-yard line to set up Bernild’s first field goal of the day, a 31-yard boo to cap a nine-play drive.
Two possessions later, Bernild split the uprights from 42 yards out with nine seconds elapsed in the second quarter.
Each team missed an opportunity to put three points on the board in the final minute of the half, as Bernild missed wide right on a 21-yard field-goal attempt with 41 seconds left and Urbana drove all the way to the Wesleyan 19-yard line before Marshall Newsome came up short on a 36-yard kick with a second left in the half.
Wesleyan upped their lead to 20-0 on the first drive of the second half, marching 65 yards on nine plays. Malcolm Yowk ran for 15 yards and a first down on the drive and caught a 20-yard reception for a first down, and Montana finished the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Lavaughn Hughes.
But Urbana responded in convincing fashion with a pair of long touchdown drives of their own on their next two possessions. Mendenhall threw his first touchdown of the day to Jeffvon Gill from 37 yards out, capping an 11-play, 85-yard drive that included three third-down conversions of 8 yards or longer.
After a quick Wesleyan three-and-out, Urbana scored again to cut the lead to 20-14, as Mendenhall tossed an 11-yard touchdown to Nate Wilburn-Ogletree to finish off a nine-play, 78-yard drive.
Wesleyan missed another opportunity to regain the momentum when Bernild missed a pair of field-goal attempts on the ensuing drive — an initial attempt from 44 yards out, then a 39-yard second chance after Urbana was flagged for running into the kicker.
But the Wesleyan defense seized control of the game for good on the ensuing possession, with Kelly scoring the team’s second defensive touchdown of the season.
The Wesleyan offense followed their defense’s lead by tacking on another touchdown on their next possession, putting the game out of reach for good. Montana completed a 23-yard pass to Blackwell and back-to-back 17-yard aerials to Yowk and Nyme Manns, setting up an 8-yard touchdown strike to Blackwell.
“We need playmakers to step up when the game is on the line and they did that today,” Jackson said of the decisive touchdown drive.
Urbana added a late touchdown on a 21-yard toss from Mendenhall to Alvin Busbee on the following drive, but Wesleyan defensive back Hausaan Burton intercepted a Mendenhall pass with 2:11 left to play to put the Blue Knights away for good.
The Wesleyan defense finished the day with three sacks, two quarterback hurries, seven tackles for loss and five takeaways.
“They’re an 11 personnel, tight end-oriented team,” Jackson said of the matchup with Urbana’s offense. “They came out at the half with their adjustments to go four receivers and they had a couple good drives there, and that’s when we had to make an adjustments and brought DB pressure and I thought that really helped us at the end of the game.”
Mendenhall threw for 285 yards on the day and Wilburn-Ogletree made a game-high 11 receptions for 109 yards, as the Blue Knights dropped to 3-2.
The Bobcats will hit the road this weekend for the first of two straight away games, heading to Shepherd for a noon meeting with the WVIAC-leading Rams, who will enter the game with a 4-1 overall record and a 3-0 WVIAC mark.
The Bobcats will travel to Fairmont State the following Saturday.
Urbana 0 0 14 7 — 21
West Virginia Wesleyan 10 3 7 13 — 33
WVWC — Nyquan McGirt 32-yard pass from Nate Montana (Bernild kick)
WVWC — Bernild 31-yard field goal
WVWC — Bernild 42-yard field goal
WVWC — Lavaughn Hughes 19-yard pass from Montana (Bernild kick)
U — Jeffvon Gill 37-yard pass from D.J. Mendenhall (Marshall Newsome kick)
U — Nate Wilburn-Ogletree 11-yard pass from Mendenhall (Newsome kick)
WVWC — Jermichael Kelly 21-yard interception return (Bernild kick failed)
WVWC — Chase Blackwell 8-yard pass from Montana (Bernild kick)
U — Alvin Busbee 21-yard pass from Mendenhall (Newsome kick)
First downs — U 20 (3 rushing, 16 passing, 1 penalty); WVWC 23 (6 rushing, 15 passing, 2 penalty).
Rushing yards — U 84; WVWC 66.
Passing yards — U 285; WVWC 3555.
Total offense — U 369; WVWC 421.
Fumbles — U 4; WVWC 2.
Fumbles lost — U 2; WVWC none.
Penalties — U 9-75; WVWC 9-85.
Punts — U 9-37.8; WVWC 9-39.8.
All-return yards — U 88; WVWC 186.
U — Jeffvon Gill 10-70; D.J. Mendenhall 14-8; David Hill 10-6. Totals 34-84.
WVWC — Malcolm Yowk 15-64; Desmond Sivels 2-14; Chase Blackwell 1-6; Ricky Connor 1-4; Jeremy Musselman 1-0; Lavaughn Hughes 1-(-2); Nate Montana 4-(-8); Team 4-(-12). Totals 29-66.
U — Mendenhall 27-for-46 for 285 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions.
WVWC — Montana 27-for-56 for 341 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception; Musselman 4-for-5 for 14 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. Totals 31-for-61 for 355 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception.
U — Nate Wilburn-Ogletree 11-109 (1 touchdown); Marc Johnson 6-69; Alvin Busbee 4-60 (1 touchdown); Gill 2-31 (1 touchdown); Kenya Coombs 2-8; Matt Nowak 2-8. Totals 27-285 (3 touchdowns).
WVWC — Donte Boston 5-95; Blackwell 9-94 (1 touchdown); Yowk 6-56; Hughes 4-36 (1 touchdown); Nyme Manns 5-36; Nyquan McGirt 1-32 (1 touchdown); Justin Heinauer 1-6. Totals 31-355 (3 touchdowns).For the complete article see the 10-03-2012 issue.
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