Graham explodes in 47-33 Waynesburg win over Geneva
Senior quarterback Josh Graham had a monster game and led his team to its fourth-straight victory, a 47-33 decision over the Golden Tornadoes. With the homecoming win, Waynesburg improved to 4-1 on the season and 4-0 in Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) play. The loss dropped the Tornadoes to 1-5 on the season and 1-3 in conference action.
The home team got off to a fast start on defense, forcing Geneva into a quick three-and-out on offense. The Yellow Jacket offense followed suit by scoring on its first possession of the game, which covered 69 yards in four plays. Graham recorded his first of a personal-best six touchdown passes when he found sophomore Cody McGee on a 19-yard touchdown connection with just 3:21 gone by in the game. Senior Chris Marini nailed down the extra point to make it 7-0 Jackets.
After another Geneva three-and-out, Waynesburg doubled its advantage with a four-play, 56-yard drive that lasted just 1:51. Once again, it was Graham capping the possession, this time finding junior Christian Jackson on a 28-yard catch-and-run to make it 13-0 Jackets. Another Marini field goal pushed the score to 14-0 with 7:43 still to play in the opening quarter.
Geneva got back into the contest with an early second-quarter touchdown that trimmed that Jacket advantage to 14-7, but Waynesburg responded two possessions later with its only rushing touchdown of the game. Sophomore Bertrand Ngampa ended a four-play, 50-yard possession with his team-leading fifth touchdown run of the year, which came from four yards out. Marini's third PAT of the afternoon pushed his team back ahead by 14 points (21-7) halfway through the second period.
The Golden Tornadoes were once again able to respond with a touchdown of their own that cut their deficit down to 21-14, but that was the last time the visitors would be within a single score of their hosts on the afternoon. Two possessions later, Waynesburg re-established a two-touchdown advantage when Graham found senior teammate Jeff Young on a drive-capping six-yard scoring pass that ended an eight-play, 47-yard possession. Another successful kick by Marini put the home team ahead 28-14, which was also the score at halftime.
The trip to the locker room did nothing to slow down the Jacket offense, which picked up right where it left off during its first possession of the third quarter. After a fantastic kick return by Jackson set Waynesburg up at the Geneva 26-yard line, Graham found Young for a second time in the Geneva end zone to end a four-play possession and move the home team ahead 34-14. Marini's extra point gave the Jackets a 35-14 advantage.
After the Waynesburg defense forced Geneva to go three-and-out, the Jackets put the game out of reach with a six-play, 39-yard drive that ended with Graham floating a pass right into the waiting arms of sophomore Pat DePizzo for a Jacket touchdown. With 8:18 showing on the third-quarter clock, the Yellow Jackets held a 41-14 advantage in front of their homecoming crowd.
To Geneva's credit, the Golden Tornadoes posted back-to-back touchdowns during the end of the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter to make the score 41-27 with 11:59 showing on the clock. However, Waynesburg was able to stop the momentum with its seventh touchdown drive of the game, which started at the Jacket 40-yard line. Nine plays later, Graham hooked up with Young for a third time, this time on a 17-yard strike that put the Jackets ahead 47-27 with eight minutes left to play.
Geneva was able to tack on one more late touchdown, but it was too little, too late as the Jackets celebrated a homecoming victory. As previously mentioned, Graham stole the show by throwing for a personal, game and season-high 311 yards and six touchdowns on 19-of-29 passing. Graham's half-dozen scores came just two scores shy of John Huntey's record of eight, which was set in 1968.
Jackson was his favorite target on the day, pulling in a collegiate-best and team-high eight balls for 157 yards and a touchdown. Young pulled in three catches, all for touchdowns. It is the second time in the past two seasons that Graham has hooked up with Young for three touchdowns in a game. The duo accomplished the feat in 2010 against Grove City. The senior wide receiver Washington, D.C. was also crowned homecoming king at halftime.
Though the Waynesburg running game took a back seat to its aerial attack, the Yellow Jackets still out-ran their opponents by a 119-to-84 margin. The Jackets were led on the ground by senior Justin Falcon, who totaled 40 yards on 12 carries.
Senior Sam Byrne had a huge day in pacing the Waynesburg defensive effort. The Berkeley Spring, W.Va. native recorded game highs in total tackles (9), solo tackles (9) and tackles in the backfield (3.0). Senior defensive tackle Darryl Moore, Jr. notched two of Waynesburg's six sacks as part of a four-tackle day. Sophomore defensive end Brandon Fedorka added 1.5 sacks in the win.
Geneva's offense was led by quarterback Rocco Collavecchia who went six-of-eight as a passer for 160 yards and two touchdowns, led all ball carriers with 53 yards and two touchdown on 11 carries and hauled in three catches for 41 yards.
After playing back-to-back home games, Waynesburg hits the road on Saturday, Oct. 15, for a PAC showdown with conference rival Westminster. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.