Football 9/9/2022 5:17:00 PM
Wheeling, W. Va. – In week one of the Wheeling University Football season, the defense led the way, forcing four turnovers, allowing 11 points, and leading their team to a 25-11 season-opening win. The Cardinals (1-0, 0-0) now look to carry some of that momentum with them into their Mountain East Conference (MEC) opener when they hit the road to face Notre Dame College on Saturday with kick-off at 12 PM.
In week one, the Cardinals took on non-conference opponent Seton Hill in what was a wild game at Bishop Schmitt Field. Both teams struggled to get going in the early portions of the game, with the teams trading safeties to complete the first quarter scoring. With under a minute to go before the half, the score remained 2-2 until Javon Davis found Chris Canaday in the back of the endzone for the game’s first touchdown. A Griffin field goal made it 9-5 and sent the teams into halftime with that score in tack. Coming out for the second half, the Wheeling offense caught fire with Davis and Sy Alli each picking up rushing touchdowns to move Wheeling to a 23-11 advantage. As the fourth quarter began. Wheeling embarked on a 10-minute drive that all but sealed the deal and a Wheeling safety would bring the game to its conclusion at 25-11.
The defense reigned supreme throughout the game, forcing four Griffin turnovers while also scoring a safety. Redshirt senior defensive back Kelvin Bazemore led the way with two interceptions in the game while Alex Hill and Masiah Thorne each picked up their first career interceptions in the game. They only allowed one Griffin touchdown in the game and, thanks to Bazemore, cut down on two other touchdown chances. The defense was also able to put pressure on the quarterback throughout the night thanks to a strong rush from the defensive line. As a unit, the Cardinals came away with three sacks in the game with all three of their primary guys in on the action. The biggest came in the fourth quarter with Seton Hill pinned back on their own nine-yard line. Defensive tackle Chase Nolan worked his way into the backfield and picked up the safety that sealed the game.
On the offensive side of the ball, the running game led the night with 211 net rushing yards and 239 yards gained on the night. Sy Alli picked up right where he left off in 2021, rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown in the win. He was the program’s first 1,000-yard rusher a year ago and had five 100-yard rushing games during the season. He starts this year off strong as he chases down 3,000 career rushing yards this season. Quarterback Javon Davis also got in on the rushing game, totaling 48 yards and his first Wheeling touchdown. As a passer, Davis went 9-25 for 91 yards with his top target being Jake Keenan, who pulled in four catches for 52 yards. The offense showed an ability to move the ball down field throughout the night and look to take their second half momentum into this week’s game.
With the start of MEC play on Saturday, Zac Bruney and his team are looking to make that next step towards becoming an upper echelon team in the conference. Last season, the Cardinals had their second ever .500 season in conference play, going 5-5, and finished in a tie with Fairmont State for sixth in the conference. The Cardinals were picked #8 in this season’s annual MEC Preseason Poll and are looking to get their conference schedule started strong. They get going with a tough test right away, as they take on the defending MEC Champions and NCAA Division II tournament qualifier from a season ago.
The Cardinals and Falcons are meeting for the fourth time in program history, with Notre Dame College leading the all-time series with a record of 3-0. The Cardinals have averaged just over 11 points per game against the Falcons and are making their first trip back to South Euclid, Ohio since the 2019 season. The Cardinals battled hard in last season’s meeting, outscoring the Falcons in the second half, but fell 31-15.
Former Cardinal Jaquaun Davidson had a big game, pulling in six catches for 60 yards while Sy Alli picked up 85 rushing yards on 17 carries. Former Cardinal Dalton Hoover led the defense with 10 total tackles, eight solo and two assisted, including one sack in the loss. The Cardinals showed that they could drive against the Falcons in the second half of that game and look for similar success as they take the field in 2022.
Kick-off for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 12 PM at Mueller Field on the campus of Notre Dame College. You can watch the action live by clicking HERE or follow along with Live Stats by clicking HERE.
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