Ninth-Ranked St. John Fisher Rallies For 28-24 Win Over W&J
WASHINGTON, Pa. – Jason Beaumont caught a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes, including a 91-yarder with 5:59 remaining, to rally No. 9 St. John Fisher for a 28-24 victory over Washington & Jefferson on Saturday afternoon at Cameron Stadium.
The Cardinals (2-0), who defeated Thomas More last week 13-7 in overtime, won its second-straight close game despite being outgained 445-258 by W&J. The Presidents also owned large advantages in time of possession (38:08-21:52) and first downs (28-12), but four turnovers ultimately doomed the home team.
The W&J defense dominated the first half, holding the Cardinals to 33 total yards and forcing six punts. After the first SJF punt, the Presidents’ offense drove 75 yards in six plays and scored on a 40-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Matt Bliss (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) to senior wide receiver Hunter Creel (Industry, Pa./Western Beaver).
The Presidents were intercepted and had a field goal blocked during their next two possessions, but the defense forced another punt and the offense strung together another long drive. Junior running back Dion Wiegand (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) provided a spark with a 17-yard pass reception; however, a Bliss pass on 3rd-and-goal was picked off by Adam Burdick at the goal line, who raced 100 yards to tie the game 7-7.
Senior running back Tim McNerney (Butler, Pa./Knoch), who reached the 2,000 career yard plateau during the first quarter, picked up a pair of first downs following the kickoff and two Bliss completions set up junior Eric Eberle’s (Mifflintown, Pa./Juniata) career-long 36-yard field goal at the 9:06 mark of the second quarter.
W&J was again deep in St. John Fisher territory on its next drive, but two sacks forced an Eberle punt. A quick three-and-out sequence by the Cardinals put W&J in position again and McNerney rushed five consecutive times for 43 yards to set up Bliss’ two-yard scoring jaunt, giving W&J a 17-7 halftime edge.
The Cardinals finally were able to get their offense going on their first drive of the second half. Ryan Kramer and David Kirchner hooked up for a 14-yard scoring pass to cap an 81-yard drive midway through the third quarter.
Washington & Jefferson answered with a quick 65-yard drive to push the lead back to 10 points (24-14) as Creel once again snuck behind the SJF defense for a 37-yard touchdown pass from Bliss.
On the third play of the fourth quarter, Matt Monacelli returned a punt 24 yards to the W&J 36 and Kramer lofted a 25-yard touchdown pass to Beaumont four plays later to bring the Cardinals to within 24-21 with 12:59 left. After forcing two W&J punts, the Cardinals started a possession at their own nine-yard line with 6:48 remaining. On third down, Kramer hit Beaumont along the SJF sidelines and he rumbled 91 yards for the eventual game-winning score.
The Presidents had the ball inside SJF territory twice during the final four minutes, but Travis Tones’ sack and forced fumble ended the first series and Troy Sant intercepted a pass at the 10-yard line with 35 seconds left to seal the win.
McNerney carried the ball 24 times for 167 yards to lead the W&J offense, while Bliss completed 27-of-42 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Creel had a career day with eight receptions for 109 yards and two scores, while junior wideout Alex Baroffio (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) finished one reception shy of tying the school record with 13 grabs for 78 yards.
Defensively, senior linebacker John Hunter (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) recorded a career-high nine tackles, including two for a loss, while junior defensive end Jon Lowery (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) notched five tackles and one sack.
Kramer completed only 10-of-24 passes, but three went for touchdowns. He had 183 yards through the air and rushed for 22. Joe Leavell paced the St. John Fisher defense with 12 tackles and a fumble recovery.
W&J opens Presidents’ Athletic Conference play next Saturday under the lights at Cameron Stadium versus Grove City at 7:00 pm.