Powered by 21 second-half points, the Saint Vincent Bearcats
defeated the Washington & Jefferson Presidents, 35-27, on
Homecoming weekend. Defensively, the Bearcats intercepted three
W&J passes in the second half, all of which set-up Saint
The Bearcats victory was the first over the Presidents in program history and, arguably, the biggest win in the modern era of Saint Vincent football.
Leading 14-7 at the start of the second half, W&J scored 14 consecutive points to take a 21-14 lead with just over 4:30 remaining in the third quarter.
On the first play of the Presidents' next offensive possession, W&J quarterback Matt Bliss' pass was intercepted by Dan Wirkowski and returned 61 yards to the Presidents' 22-yard line. Two plays later, Joe Yezovich plowed into the endzone from the one-yard line for the Saint Vincent touchdown. Morgan Porter's extra point tied the contest at 21 with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
The Saint Vincent defense was not done, though. On the second play of the ensuring Presidents' drive, Bliss' pass was deflected off the hands of receiver Hunter Creel and intercepted by Drew Owusu at the W&J 36-yard line.
Three plays later, Smetanka found tight end Jake Smith on a pass over the middle and Smith powered his way into the end zone for the touchdown, giving Saint Vincent the 28-21 advantage with 1:19 left in the third.
With time winding down in the third quarter, Bliss was picked-off again, this time by Darius Brown, giving the Bearcats the ball on the W&J 40-yard line.
After the interception, Saint Vincent used a steady dose of running backs Mike Kale and Huey Ehredt to wear down the W&J defense. On second down at the W&J 23-yard line, Ehredt rushed for five yards but the Presidents committed a facemask penalty and set Saint Vincent up with first-and-goal at the eight-yard line. After Kale got the ball to the one-yard line on a rush, Smetanka plunged into the end zone on third down, making the score 35-21 Saint Vincent with just over 11:30 remaining in regulation.
With 3:18 left in the fourth quarter, W&J marched 58 yards in six plays, with Bliss finding Creel for the touchdown. Anthony May blocked the extra point attempt and Saint Vincent led 35-27 late in the fourth quarter.
The Bearcats' were forced to punt the ball back to the Presidents' with :16 remaining in the game. Kale's punt pinned W&J at their own 23-yard line. With one second left, the Presidents attempted one last shot to the end zone but Bliss; pass was knocked down by Wirkowski and Saint Vincent held on for the 35-27 victory.
W&J opened the game's scoring on their first possession of the game. The Presidents went 87 yards in eight plays with Bliss finding Brett Axner for a touchdown and the 7-0 lead.
Saint Vincent got on the board on their first drive of the second quarter. The Bearcats marched 85 yards in nine plays and took 4:36 off the clock. Six of the nine plays on the drive were rushes by Kale, with the final one being a five-yard touchdown run. Porter's extra point attempt sailed wide and W&J still led, 7-6.
After the Bearcats defense forced W&J to go three-and-out on their next possession, Saint Vincent grabbed the lead. Smetanka found Carl Jeune on a 17-yard strike to set-up first-and-goal from the W&J six-yard line. Ehredt hit pay dirt on the next play to make the score 12-7. The Bearcats elected to go for two and Smetanka connected with Jarius Marlow on a roll-out pass to give the Bearcats the 14-7 edge.
Smetanka finished the day 13-of-20 for 200 yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and one passing. Ricky Douglas led all Saint Vincent receivers with four receptions for 90 yards. Kale and Ehredt each rushed 16 times for 92 yards and 83 yards, respectively. Kale was also integral to the special teams, including a 46-yard punt with time winding down in regulation that pinned W&J deep in their own territory.
On defense, Anthony Johnson led the way with 11 tackles in the game. Marvin Daney added 10 stops while Armando Fortunato chipped in with eight tackles and one sack for a loss of nine yards.