Thomas More Deals W&J Loss On Emotional Day In Kentucky
CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. -- The Washington & Jefferson College football team took Thomas More College’s Bank of Kentucky Field with heavy hearts on Saturday in the first game since the tragic death of senior running back Tim McNerney (Butler, Pa./Knoch) on Saturday. The Saints (2-3, 2-2 PAC) defeated the Presidents (4-2, 3-1 PAC) by a score of 56-18 in a Presidents’ Athletic Conference game.
“We certainly aren’t using this as an excuse, but it was a victory for our football team to take the field today,” said Head Coach Mike Sirianni. “In the end, it’s just a football game. I do think we will bounce back. I am proud of these young men. We learned a lesson in life this week. There are more important things in life than football wins and losses. But they came out and played hard for their friend, teammate and captain. They played with real emotion today. These players know that Tim will always be with them.”
The Presidents received the opening kickoff and the starting running back in place of McNerney, junior Dion Wiegand (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) returned it 43 yards to the TMC 45. On W&J’s first offensive snap, the Presidents lined up with 10 men on the field, none of which were in the backfield. W&J senior captain DeAndre Simmons (Fort Myers, Fla./Riverdale) wore McNerney's #5 in his honor during the game.
Washington & Jefferson was plagued by seven turnovers on the afternoon, three fumbles and four interceptions. Thomas More led by only three points following the opening 15 minutes, but 24 second-quarter points pushed the lead to 27-0 at halftime. W&J trailed 20-0 late in the first half and drove to the TMC 3 before turning the ball over on downs. Three plays later, Adam Rauch raced through the W&J defense for a 95-yard touchdown run.
The Presidents scored their first points of the afternoon at the 10:35 mark of the third quarter when Wiegand caught a four-yard scoring pass from junior quarterback Matt Bliss (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park). Junior placekicker Eric Eberle (Mifflintown, Pa./Juniata) later booted a 40-yard field goal to narrow the deficit to 27-10, but Rauch put the game away with an 81-yard touchdown run on the first play after the kickoff.
Thomas More outgained W&J 606-332 and received 181 yards and three touchdowns from Rauch.
Washington & Jefferson was led by the defensive effort of senior safety Zach DeCicco (Jefferson Hills, Pa./Thomas Jefferson). He racked up five solo tackles, including one sack, while adding an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He also batted down three TMC pass attempts. Senior linebacker John Hunter (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) led the Presidents with eight tackles.
Offensively, Bliss passed for 225 yards and one touchdown, but was sacked five times. Senior wide receiver Hunter Creel (Industry, Pa./Western Beaver) caught six passes for 111 yards, while Wiegand rushed for 53 yards and hauled in three passes for 31 yards.
W&J returns to Cameron Stadium next Saturday for a 1:30 pm kickoff with Westminster.