W&J Sets Up Week 10 Showdown With 27-17 Win At Geneva
BEAVER FALLS, Pa. -- Senior linebacker Ian Hennessy (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) produced 14 tackles (1.5 for a loss), broke up three pass plays and added a sack during Washington & Jefferson's 27-17 Presidents' Athletic Conference football victory over Geneva Saturday night at Reeves Field.
The Presidents (7-2, 6-1 PAC), who have defeated the Golden Tornadoes (2-7, 2-5 PAC) eight consecutive times, will now play at Waynesburg next week with the PAC championship on the line. A win over the nationally-ranked and undefeated Yellow Jackets would give W&J its first conference title since 2007 (23rd overall) and the program's first NCAA playoff bid since 2009.
Junior running back Dion Wiegand (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) piled up 135 all-purpose yards (72 rush, 29 receiving, 34 return) for the Presidents, including a 22-yard touchdown run at the 6:33 mark of the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Geneva answered with a 12-play, 65-yard drive and tied the game when Zach Hayward tossed a six-yard touchdown pass to Corey O'Patchen. O'Patchen finished with a game-high 118 receiving yards.
Junior Josh Budwitz (Meriden, Conn./Palatt) returned the ensuing kickoff 31 yards which led to the third-straight drive ending with a touchdown. Junior quarterback Matt Bliss (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) rushed three yards for a score on the third play of the second quarter for a 14-7 advantage.
The scoring continued just over three minutes later as Geneva's Bryan Visingardi kicked a 37-yard field goal to bring the hosts to within 14-10.
Wiegand's 34-yard kickoff return and Bliss' 27-yard scramble helped set up junior placekicker Eric Eberle's (Mifflintown, Pa./Juniata) 33-yard field goal at the 8:50 mark to up the lead back to seven points. W&J drove into Geneva territory late in the second quarter, but was stopped on downs, leaving the score at 17-10 at halftime.
The Presidents drove 53 plays on the first series of the second half and Eberle nailed a 29-yard field goal for a 20-10 lead. W&J added its final touchdown late in the third quarter after taking advantage of a Geneva miscue. Punter Ed Schuster fielded a low snap with his knee on the turf and W&J took over at the GC 6. Two plays later, junior wideout Dan Lucas (Pittsburgh, Pa./Brentwood) took a short pass from Bliss 16 yards for a touchdown and a 27-10 lead.
The Golden Tornadoes closed the scoring with 4:44 remaining when Hayward and O'Patchen hooked up for a three-yard score. Geneva drove deep in W&J territory in the final minute, but the Presidents' defense held to preserve the 10-point win.
Bliss completed 22-of-32 passes for 156 yards, nine of those to junior wide receiver Alex Baroffio (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) for 60 yards. Lucas grabbed five passes for 47 yards.
Senior linebacker John Hunter (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) added 12 tackles, while senior defensive end Tom Brunoni (Mineral Wells, W.Va./Parkersburg Catholic) notched his first career interception and added a half-sack. The W&J defense batted down 11 of Hayward's 49 pass attempts.
Hayward completed 23 passes for 197 yards, while Rocco Colavecchia had 78 of the Golden Tornadoes' 189 rushing yards. Geneva outgained W&J 386-265 and had 25 of the game's 38 first downs.
W&J and Waynesburg kick off at 1:30 pm next Saturday at John F. Wiley Stadium.