First photo: Wesleyan defensive end Jonas Celian (20) sprints past Seton Hill offensive lineman Nate Carman (75) as he returns a fumble for a touchdown during the first half of Saturday’s game at Cebe Ross Field. Looking on is Wesleyan defensive back Jeff Parrish (14).
Second photo: Wesleyan quarterback Nate Montana launches a pass on the run during the third quarter of Saturday’s game. Montana threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns in the Bobcats’ 41-17 win over the Griffins.
Photos by ANDREW REINER/The Record Delta
BUCKHANNON — Winless through three games and trailing early in Saturday’s WVIAC football matchup, the West Virginia Wesleyan defense scored the team’s first touchdown and the Bobcat offense followed their lead in a 41-17 win over the Seton Hill (Pa.) Griffins.
With just over 13 minutes left in the second quarter and the Bobcats trailing 8-0, Wesleyan defensive end Brian Vukela sacked Seton Hill quarterback Ryan Morris and stripped the fumble. Vukela’s counterpart at defensive end, Jonas Celian, picked up the loose ball at the 16-yard line and raced into the end zone untouched for the Bobcats’ first score.
From there, the Wesleyan offense cashed in four passing touchdowns from quarterback Nate Montana and Kasper Bernild booted a pair of fourth-quarter field goals in the Bobcats’ first win of the season.
Montana completed 37 of his 66 passing attempts for 413 yards and he finished the game without an interception. Montana completed passes to 10 different receivers, including eight completions for 115 yards to receiver Lavaughn Hughes.
“I thought he definitely did a good job, but I’ve got to credit our offensive line for giving him time to make throws,” Wesleyan head coach Jonas Jackson said of Montana’s effort.
Wesleyan spanned more than 50 yards on four of their six scoring drives and went 7-for-20 on third-down conversion attempts on the day, racking up more conversions in one afternoon than they had through the first three games of the season — six.
The difference, according to Jackson, was “Being good on first and second down, so we could be in third-and-manageable situations, and not have to tip our hand and our playbook on third-and-manageable situations.”
Wesleyan’s first scoring attempt came up empty, as Bernild’s first field-goal try of the day — from 30 yards out on the Bobcats’ opening drive — was blocked by the interior of the Seton Hill line.
Two possessions later, Seton Hill capped a nine-play, 70-yard drive which included three third-down conversions of more than 10 yards with a 23-yard pass from Morris to receiver Niko Hall-Brown. Kicker Josh Cavalier then ran untouched from the Griffins’ muddle-huddle formation for a two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
The Griffins’ 8-0 lead stood until the second quarter, when Wesleyan’s star defensive ends combined for the team’s first defensive touchdown of the season. Vukela finished the afternoon with three sacks and four tackles for loss, while the Bobcat defense sacked Morris six times on the day and made 12 tackles for loss.
“I thought they did a good job being aggressive and really just trying to set the tempo,” Jackson said of his defensive front. “We talked to them about setting the tempo and we’re at home; we go as our front nine goes, and those guys did a good job today.”
Two possessions later, Wesleyan took their first lead of the game when a 47-yard rush by Chase Blackwell set up a 6-yard aerial strike from Montana to Nyme Manns in the corner of the end zone. Bernild kicked his second straight extra point for a 14-8 Wesleyan advantage.
Wesleyan briefly widened their lead to 21-8 on their final drive of the first half, which covered 65 yards on 12 plays. Montana and the Wesleyan offense converted on third-and-14 and third-and-10 on the drive and Manns caught his second TD of the day from 3 yards out with 23 seconds left in the half.
Seton Hill tacked on a field goal before the end of the half though, as Wesleyan committed a personal foul penalty at the end of the ensuing kickoff to give the Griffins the ball in Bobcat territory. Five plays and 30 yards later, Cavalier booted a 35-yard field goal to cut the Wesleyan lead to 21-11 at halftime.
Each side opened the second half with a punt, but the Griffins cut the Wesleyan lead even further to 21-17 on their second possession, as Morris threw a second touchdown to Hall-Brown, this time from 19 yards out. Wesleyan snuffed out Seton Hill’s two-point conversion attempt.
Wesleyan regained control though just before the end of the third quarter, driving 66 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown. The Bobcats moved into the red zone when Montana found Donte Boston for a 29-yard completion on third-and-7 from the Seton Hill 35-yard line, and two plays later, Montana threw a 3-yard touchdown to Blackwell. Bernild’s extra point gave the ‘Cats a 28-17 lead.
Bernild added to the Wesleyan lead with field goals of 23 and 42 yards in the fourth quarter.
The Bobcats then wrapped up the scoring with 4:26 left to play, when Montana and Blackwell combined for a 38-yard touchdown through the air.
Kenny Spain intercepted a Seton Hill pass on the following drive, allowing the Wesleyan offense to run out the clock.
With the win, Wesleyan will now take a 1-3 record into this Saturday’s non-conference matchup against Urbana (Ohio) at 1 p.m. Wesleyan also stayed one game back of WVIAC leader Shepherd (3-1 overall, 2-0 WVIAC) in the conference standings.
“This was very important,” Jackson said of the win. “Seton Hill is a very formidable opponent; it just hasn’t shown in the win column. I have the utmost respect for Coach Dolinski, but definitely you’ve got to come out and win conference games if you want to stay alive.”
Seton Hill dropped to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the WVIAC.
Seton Hill 8 3 6 0 — 17
West Virginia Wesleyan 0 21 7 13 — 41
SH — Niko Hall-Brown 23-yard pass from Ryan Morris (Josh Cavalier run)
WVWC — Jonas Celian 16-yard fumble return (Kasper Bernild kick)
WVWC — Nyme Manns 6-yard pass from Nate Montana (Bernild kick)
WVWC — Manns 3-yard pass from Montana
SH — Cavalier 35-yard field goal
SH —Hall-Brown 19-yard pass from Morris (Cavalier pass failed)
WVWC — Chase Blackwell 3-yard pass from Montana (Bernild kick)
WVWC — Bernild 23-yard field goal
WVWC — Bernild 42-yard field goal
WVWC — Blackwell 38-yard pass from Montana (Bernild kick)
First downs — SH 15 (2 rushing, 9 passing, 4 penalty); WVWC 24 (3 rushing, 19 passing, 2 penalty).
Rushing yards — SH minus-20; WVWC 83.
Passing yards — SH 235; WVWC 413.
Total offense — SH 215; WVWC 496.
Fumbles — SH 1; WVWC none.
Fumbles lost — SH 1; WVWC none.
Penalties — SH 13-90; WVWC 14-139.
Punts — SH 10-40.8; WVWC 8-31.9.
All-return yards — SH 47; WVWC 145.
SH — Derrick Dyer 4-10; Tavin Davis 3-3; Trae Cook 4-(-1); Ryan Morris 10-(-32). Totals 21-(-20).
WVWC — Chase Blackwell 5-43; Malcolm Yowk 2-26; Nyquan McGirt 8-14; Justin Heinauer 1-4; Desmond Sivels 1-0; Nate Montana 6-(-1); Jesse Robertson 1-(-1), Team 2-(-2). Totals 26-83.
SH — Morris 26-for-46 for 215 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions; Andrew Jackson 2-for-8 for 20 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception. Totals 28-for-54 for 235 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception.
WVWC — Montana 37-for-66 for 413 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 inteceptions.
SH — Niko Hall-Brown 10-98 (2 touchdowns); D.J. Carter 3-45; Lance Williams 4-27; Mike Allen 2-23; D. Henderson 2-16; Cook 1-13; Tavin Davis 4-7; Dyer 1-(-3). Totals 28-253 (2 touchdowns).
WVWC — Lavaughn Hughes 8-115; Blackwell 7-97 (2 touchdowns); Nyme Manns 7-68 (2 touchdowns); Donte Boston 3-64; McGirt 5-34; Kreston Harrison 1-14; Zane Zebrasky 1-7; Ricky Connor 1-7; Yowk 3-5; Heinauer 1-2. Totals 37-413 (4 touchdowns).For the complete article see the 09-26-2012 issue.
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