Story and photo courtesy of Washington & Jefferson Athletics
WASHINGTON, Pa. - Washington & Jefferson College junior running back Dion Wiegand (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown, while catching six passes for 79 yards to help the Presidents record a 24-21 PAC football victory over Westminster on Senior Day Saturday at Cameron Stadium.
The Presidents (5-2, 4-1 PAC) were playing their first home since the tragic death of senior running back Tim McNerney (Butler, Pa./Knoch), who was remembered during the Senior Day ceremony prior to kickoff. Wiegand, McNerney’s replacement, totaled 168 all-purpose yards for the Presidents who remain in control of their own destiny for the conference title.
Westminster (2-3, 1-3 PAC) grabbed an early 7-0 lead on the first possession of the game. Quarterback Dak Britt completed the 65-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown run.
W&J, which played without injured starting wide receiver junior Alex Baroffio (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) tied the game on its third possession of the first quarter. Junior quarterback Matt Bliss (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) lofted a 38-yard pass to senior wide receiver Hunter Creel (Industry, Pa./Western Beaver) to ignite the drive and the two hooked up two plays later for a 15-yard scoring pass.
The Titans fumbled on their first series of the second quarter and sophomore cornerback Dan Sciortino (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Kenston) recovered for the Presidents. Nine plays later, junior placekicker Eric Eberle (Mifflintown, Pa./Juniata) nailed a 26-yard field goal for a 10-7 W&J lead with 11:03 left in the first half.
Westminster stopped the Presidents on downs at the WC 31-yard line with five minutes left in the half and Britt took advantage with a 61-yard touchdown run to give the Titans a 14-10 lead at halftime. W&J has trailed at the break in each of its last three games.
W&J took the lead back late in the third quarter when Wiegand sparked a seven-play, 63-yard drive to put the Presidents ahead 17-14. He caught a 24-yard swing pass and added a 20-yard rush before barreling in from two yards out for the touchdown.
A 60-yard Eberle punt pinned the Titans at their own four-yard line early in the fourth quarter and the W&J defense forced a quick punt. The lead then grew to 24-14 following Bliss’ three-yard quarterback keeper at the 6:39 mark of the fourth quarter.
Westminster answered three minutes later on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Britt to Collin Wallace, but W&J gained two first downs on the ensuing possession nearly ran out the clock before punting with 16 seconds left. Sophomore defensive end Jon Lowery (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) ended the game by bringing down Britt at the line of scrimmage on the Titans’ first play.
Bliss had his first 300-yard passing day of the season by completing 25-of-44 attempts for 312 yards, while adding 45 rushing yards. Creel had another career day with 128 receiving yards on eight receptions, while junior wideout Dan Lucas (Pittsburgh, Pa./Brentwood) had seven catches for 79 yards.
The W&J defense forced 10 punts and was led by senior linebacker Ian Hennessy’s (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) 13 tackles and a half-sack. Classmate Nathan Melhorn (Salineville, Ohio/Southern Local) added 10 stops.
The Presidents outgained the Titans 436-327 and ran 81 total plays. W&J, which won despite only converting 2-of-14 third-down chances, also used a 23-11 advantage in first downs.
Britt passed for 158 yards and rushed for 93 to lead the Titans. Alex Kernicky and Derrick Orloski both posted 13 tackles for the Titan defense.
Washington & Jefferson hosts Saint Vincent next Saturday at Cameron Stadium for Homecoming 2012. Kickoff is set for 2:00 pm.