Delaware Valley Holds Off W&J In PAC-MAC Challenge
WASHINGTON, Pa. – Quarterback Aaron Wilmer completed a nine-yard, fourth-down pass to Rodney Blango in the final minute to clinch a 20-19 Delaware Valley football victory over Washington & Jefferson in a PAC-MAC Challenge game on Saturday afternoon at Cameron Stadium.
The Aggies (2-0), who have won both games in 2011 by one point, have defeated the Presidents (1-1) in back-to-back seasons. DVC held a 375-279 yardage advantage and did not allow a third-down conversion by W&J in 12 chances. W&J was playing without junior starting running back Tim McNerney (Butler, Pa./Knoch), who was sidelined with an illness.
After a scoreless first quarter, W&J struck first as sophomore quarterback Matt Bliss (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) fired a 17-yard touchdown pass to classmate Alex Baroffio (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park). The extra point attempt was missed wide to the right and W&J led 6-0 at the 9:35 mark of the second quarter.
Delaware Valley wasted little time in answering and took a 7-6 lead 2:18 later as Wilmer led a six-play, 82-yard drive which culminated in a 24-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Lewis Vincent. Vincent also caught a 50-yard pass on the drive.
Washington & Jefferson used a 62-yard pass from Bliss to senior wideout Adam Dominick (North Irwin, Pa./Norwin) on the next play from scrimmage to set up sophomore running back Dion Wiegand’s (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) 1-yard touchdown run. W&J’s two-point conversion attempt failed.
The W&J defense forced a quick DVC punt and Bliss capitalized with a 52-yard scoring drive which lasted 83 seconds. A 26-yard strike to Baroffio set up junior Hunter Creel’s (Industry, Pa./Western Beaver) 12-yard scoring pass for a 19-7 lead with 4:37 left before halftime.
The Aggies strung together a nine-play, 64-yard scoring drive to close the first half. Kyle Schuberth rushed in from a yard out on another fourth down play nine seconds before the horn to narrow the gap to 19-14 at halftime.
W&J appeared to be in position to add to the lead on the second play of the second half. Sophomore cornerback B.J. Monacelli (Cassadaga, N.Y./Cassadaga Valley) sacked Wilmer and forced a fumble which was recovered by senior defensive end Frank Gigler (Lower Burrell, Pa./Burrell) at the DVC 7. However, the Aggies’ defense held and W&J missed a 21-yard field goal.
The Presidents’ defense forced a punt three plays later, but a Wiegand fumble set up the Aggies at the W&J 48. Wilmer provided the eventual game-winning points with an eight-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter.
W&J had the ball in DVC territory three times the remainder of the game, but missed a 31-yard field goal and turned the ball over twice on downs.
Senior linebacker Neil Sorice (Youngstown, Ohio/Canfield) dominated the defensive side of the ball for W&J with 17 tackles (two for a loss) and a sack. The 17 tackles were the most by a W&J defender since Frank Pilato ’05 compiled 18 in the 2003 season opener (9/13/03) versus Allegheny. Sorice also forced a fumble. Junior cornerback Nathan Melhorn (Salineville, Ohio/Southern Local) also set a career-high with 13 stops.
Bliss completed 20-of-31 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns (2 INT). Dominick caught seven passes for 105 yards, the first 100-yard day of his career. Baroffio added 92 receiving yards on seven catches. The W&J running game never got going with just 19 yards on 27 attempts.
Wilmer passed for 245 yards (14-of-27) and rushed for 51, while Schuberth led all ground gainers with 52 yards and a touchdown. Preseason All-America selection Mike Jaskowski had eight tackles and 1.5 sacks. Both teams notched six sacks. DVC was 3-of-4 on fourth-down opportunities.
W&J travels to Bethany next Saturday (7:00 pm) for the PAC opener for both squads in West Virginia.