Quick Start Helps W&J Rout Wooster 58-21
(Photo courtesy of Eric Kelley, d3photography.com)
WOOSTER, Ohio -- Washington & Jefferson scored three touchdowns in the opening eight minutes, including two by senior running back Dion Wiegand (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks), and ran away with a 58-21 victory over Wooster on Saturday night at John P. Papp Stadium.
W&J outgained Wooster 551-387 and racked up 31 first downs. The Presidents' 58 points were their most in a season opener since a 63-20 drubbing of Ursinus in 2002. Senior wide receiver Alex Baroffio (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) totaled 257 all-purpose yards (96 receiving, 92 kickoff return, 69 punt return) in the lopsided win.
The Presidents and Fighting Scots were meeting for the first time since 1985 and W&J dominated from the start after receiving the opening kickoff. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Wiegand bolted down the sidelines for a 51-yard touchdown 72 seconds into the season.
The W&J defense forced a punt after three plays and Baroffio set W&J up with a 30-yard return. Nine plays later, Wiegand rushed for a two-yard score and a 14-0 lead.
The lead swelled to 21-0 just over two minutes later when sophomore cornerback Marlon Brown (Munhall, Pa./Steel Valley) stepped in front of wide receiver screen pass and raced 75 yards for a touchdown. The 75-yard return was the longest by a President on an interception since Ryan Graft's 82-yard return in 2003 versus Bethany.
Wooster answered with a 66-yard drive on its next possession which was capped on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Richard Barnes to Justin Rice, but W&J wasted little time in reclaiming the 21-point lead as Wiegand's third touchdown of the game (9 yards) came with three minutes left in the first quarter. The first quarter ended on the first collegiate sack in the career of W&J sophomore defensive tackle Jon Turner (Freeport, Pa./Freeport).
Baroffio's 21-yard punt return on the first play of the second quarter jump started the next scoring drive and senior quarterback Matt Bliss (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) scored from four yards out for a 35-7 advantage.
A 15-play, 79-yard Wooster drive ended on a six-yard pass from Barnes to Darrian Owens to narrow the gap to 35-14 midway through the second quarter, but W&J again quickly responded. Baroffio had another long kickoff return (42 yards) and a Bliss' 1-yard keeper pushed the lead back to 42-14.
On their first possession of the second half, the Presidents drove 75 yards in eight plays and Bliss fired a 10-yard touchdown pass to Baroffio for a 48-14 edge. Senior placekicker Eric Eberle (Mifflintown, Pa./Juniata) booted a 34-yard field goal and sophomore running back Ryan Ruffing (Pittsburgh, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) rushed three yards for a score in the fourth quarter to cap the Presidents' scoring.
Wiegand gained 128 yards on 19 carries, while Ruffing added 77 yards on 12 attempts. Bliss misfired on just six passes all night (27-of-33) and threw for 312 yards. Senior wideout Dan Lucas (Pittsburgh, Pa./Brentwood) caught a career-high 10 passes for 96 yards, while Baroffio grabbed nine passes for 96 yards. Baroffio vaulted all the way from fifth place to second on the W&J career reception list (187) and is now six away from passing David Ravida (192) for the school record.
Senior tight end Steven Licht (Pittsburgh, Pa./Thomas Jefferson) added 84 yards receiving on four grabs.
Defensively, junior linebacker Jared Pratt (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) recorded a team-high 12 tackles (11 solo) in his first appearance in a W&J uniform, while Turner notched nine tackles and a pair of sacks. The Presidents, who did not punt until four minutes left in the game, finished with five sacks as a team and sophomore linebacker Jalen Morris (Washington, Pa./Washington) added an interception in the fourth quarter.
Barnes was limited to 9-of-23 accuracy at quarterback for the Fighting Scots. He passed for 183 yards, while Sean Hackel rushed 29 times for 148 yards to lead Wooster on the ground.
W&J hits the road again next Saturday with a trip to Rochester, N.Y., to face the 24th-ranked St. John Fisher Cardinals at 1:00 pm.