October 3, 2012

W&J-Thomas More Game Notes

More news about: Washington and Jefferson

Washington & Jefferson College Presidents (4-1, 3-0 PAC) at Thomas More College Saints (1-3, 1-2 PAC)

Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 – Crestview Hills, Ky.

Time:  1:30 pm

Site: The Bank Of Kentucky Field (3,000)

Series:  TMC leads 4-3

Series Streak: +4 TMC

Audio: 1450-AM WJPA; http://www.wjpa.com/sports.htm

Last Meeting:  TMC 35, W&J 32 -- 9/24/11

First Meeting:  W&J 32, TMC 14 -- 11/5/2005

Last W&J Win: W&J 42, TMC 0 -- 11/3/2007

Last TMC Win:  TMC 35, W&J 32 -- 9/24/11

Last W&J Win at TMC:  W&J 42, TMC 0 -- 11/3/2007

Last TMC Win at TMC:  TMC 29, W&J 21 -- 9/25/10

THE SERIES:  Washington & Jefferson and Thomas More meet for the eighth time in history on Saturday. After winning the first three games in the series, the Presidents have dropped four-straight games to the Saints. W&J and TMC have split the previous four games played in Kentucky.  Saturday is Homecoming Day for Thomas More College. 

THE HEAD COACHES: One of college football's most successful coaches, Mike Sirianni (Mount Union '94) owns an 89-19 (.824) record in his 10th season as the  W&J head coach.  The three-time PAC Coach of the Year and 2004 South Region Coach of the Year is fifth among all active NCAA head coaches in winning percentage (minimum five years of experience).  Jim Hilvert (St. Joseph's (Ind.) '03) has led the Saints to 44 victories (44-16) and four Presidents' Athletic Conference titles during his six seasons at Thomas More.

W&J vs. THE PAC:  W&J has amassed a 258-84-4 (.748) all-time record against current members of the Presidents' Athletic Conference.  Washington & Jefferson has claimed 22 PAC Championships throughout history.  The Presidents have won 71 of their last 78 conference games.

Bethany (69-20)                 

Geneva (38-19-2)               

Grove City (35-13) 

Saint Vincent (4-1)

Thiel (42-22-2)

Thomas More (3-4) 

Waynesburg (36-3)

Westminster (31-2)

THE LAST MEETING {TMC 35, W&J 32 -- 9/24/11}:   Eighth-ranked Thomas More built a 14-0 lead nine minutes in and held on for a wild 35-32 victory over Washington & Jefferson.  The Presidents outgained the Saints by a 524-395 margin and held a 31-24 edge in first downs, but two turnovers proved costly.  The final turnover, an interception by Zach Autenreib at the TMC 34 yard line with 1:41 remaining sealed the Saints' fourth-straight win over the Presidents.  Robert Kues opened the scoring midway through the first quarter with a 10-yard touchdown strike to Austin Studer, capping a 14-play, 85-yard drive.  W&J fumbled on the second play of its ensuing drive and Thomas More capitalized with Domonique Hayden's 23-yard scoring run just 47 seconds after its opening score.  W&J regrouped and sliced the lead in half at the 10:24 mark of the second quarter on Tim McNerney's 1-yard touchdown run.  The Presidents' defense forced a quick punt and the offense covered 54 yards in seven plays to tie the game on a strange play. Matt Bliss ran nine yards to the TMC 1, but fumbled which was eventually  recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by W&J tackle Zach Wildey.  TMC answered with a Kues to Adam Rauch 3-yard scoring pass with just under two minutes left in the first half, but W&J narrowed the gap to 21-17 at halftime on Eric Eberle's 19-yard field goal.  Thomas More scored on its first possession of the second half as Kues rushed three yards for a touchdown and a 28-17 lead.  The Presidents again sliced the deficit to four points with a 35-yard touchdown strike from Bliss to Alex Baroffio with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.  The Saints came right back with a 14-play, 76-yard drive to go ahead 35-24.  Hayden carried 12 yards for the final TMC touchdown.  W&J drove to the TMC 5 on its next possession, but turned the ball over on downs.  TMC punted after just three plays and Hunter Creel caught a screen pass from Bliss and dashed 18 yards for a touchdown with 3:34 left in regulation.  The defense held Thomas More again and the Presidents took over at their own 38-yard line; however, Autenreib picked off a Bliss pass on the third play and the Saints ran out the clock.  Kues passed for 227 yards and two scores, while rushing for 48.  Hayden had 77 yards on 15 attempts, while Shaq Jinks paced the defense with 12 tackles, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.   Although the Saints were outgained by over 100 yards, TMC owned a slight advantage in time of possession (32:07-27:53).  Bliss completed 30-of-50 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Presidents, who rushed for 206 yards as a team.  He also gained 77 yards on the ground.  McNerney complied 93 yards on 21 rushing attempts and Baroffio caught seven passes for 115 yards.  Creel added seven receptions for 86 yards.  Defensively, Ian Hennessy and Nathan Melhorn both racked up a game-high 13 tackles. 

SCOUTING THOMAS MORE:  The four-time defending PAC champion Saints have lost three of the first four games for the first time since 2004.  Each Thomas More loss has been a road game that could have gone either way as the Saints have suffered overtime losses to ninth-ranked St. John Fisher (13-7) and Geneva (50-48, 4OT) as well as a 14-10 setback to Waynesburg.  In the Yellow Jacket loss, TMC had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown with 6:44 remaining.  Geneva scored two touchdowns in the final 2:30 to force overtime.  Offensive production has been the primary problem for the Saints as they average 232.5 yards per game which ranks 218th out of 239 NCAA Division III teams.  Thomas More has struggled without 2011 PAC Player of the Year, running back Domonique Hayden, who has been out with a knee injury.  Junior Adam Rauch (204 yds, 4 TD) and sophomore Landon Savoy (180 yds, 1 TD) have shared rushing duties.  Freshman Jensen Gebhardt started his first college game last week at Geneva.  After a 178-yard, three-touchdown performance, he is expected to start against the Presidents.   TMC has made up for the lack of offense with the nation's fifth-ranked turnover margin (+2.25).  Senior defensive back Zach Autenreib leads the defense with five interceptions.  He is currently tied with Ralph Gebhardt (Univ. of Rochester, 1973-75) for the NCAA Division III career record with 29 interceptions during his career.  Tom Collins of Division II Indianapolis owns the all-divisions record with 37. 

SEPTEMBER ENDS: W&J completed a five-game September slate last week with its fourth victory, marking the sixth time under Head Coach Mike Sirianni that the Presidents won four games during the first month of the season. W&J played five games during the month of September for the first time in the program's 121-year history.

EARLY RISERS:  The Presidents saw their streak of consecutive games without allowing a first-quarter point end at 10 last week when Bethany scored 10.  Thomas More's 14 points in week four of last season had been the last time W&J allowed an opponent to score at all during the first 15 minutes.  Last year's TMC game also marked the last time W&J trailed after the first quarter prior to Bethany taking a 10-7 into the second quarter Saturday night.  It was just the 14th time in 108 games under Sirianni that W&J had trailed following one quarter of play.

RARE STREAK: W&J has lost to Thomas More in four consecutive seasons, the first time an opponent has defeated the Presidents in four-straight years since Buffalo State from 1996-99.  The program has not lost five-straight to an opponent in consecutive seasons since losing to Carnegie Mellon 12 times from 1972-1983.

HISTORY LESSON:  Washington & Jefferson is 15 victories shy of becoming the third program in NCAA Division III history to win 700 games.  W&J is competing in its 121st varsity season (685-378-40) and is third behind Wittenberg (711) and Mount Union (703) among NCAA Division III schools.  Widener (656) and Williams (630) round out the top five.  Once W&J reaches 700 victories, it will join an elite group among all college football divisions which currently has 20 members of 700-plus wins (Wittenberg, Mt. Union, Yale, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Michigan, Texas, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Southern Cal, Georgia, LSU, Penn State, Auburn and West Virginia). 

CONTROLLING THE BALL:  The Presidents have won the time of possession battle in four of five games this season by an average of six and a half minutes per contest. Since 2005, W&J has led its opponents in average time of possession every year except 2010. Despite losing 4-of-7 games to TMC, W&J has led the Saints in time of possession in every meeting except last year. 

SAME SONG AND DANCE:  During the Saints' four-game win streak over the Presidents, the outcomes of the games have been ultimately decided by turnovers.  Thomas More has forced 10 turnovers, while only committing a pair.  In the 2009 and 2011 meetings, potential W&J game-winning or game-tying drives were ended by Zach Autenreib interceptions.  In the first three series meetings won by W&J, the Presidents forced 10 turnovers, while only committing three.

LOWERY POWER:  On Monday, sophomore defensive end Jon Lowery was selected as the PAC Defensive Player of the Week.  Twenty-four hours later, he landed a spot on the D3football.com National Team of the Week.  Lowery was one of two defensive ends named to the team, joining Ryan Ericksen of Wisconsin-Stout.  Lowery helped the Presidents (4-1, 3-0 PAC) defeat Bethany 28-26 on Saturday evening at Cameron Stadium by amassing four sacks for a loss of 42 yards.  All four sacks came during the second half in which W&J fought back from a 20-7 halftime deficit.  His four sacks were the most by a President since Jacob Bloomhuff '10 posted 4.5 against Geneva in 2009.  Three of Lowery's sacks came on Bison third-down conversion attempts.

PASS TO HENNESSY:  Senior linebacker Ian Hennessy made perhaps the biggest play of the game against Bethany on Saturday when intercepting a Matt Grimard pass and racing 24 yards for a touchdown and a 28-20 W&J lead early in the fourth quarter.  Hennessy became the first President defender to score a touchdown since W&J had three defensive scores at Westminster on Oct. 24, 2009.  Hennessy added 10 tackles (two for a loss) and one pass breakup.  He is third on the team with 31 tackles, including 5.0 for a loss. 

HOME AGAIN:  Senior running back Tim McNerney missed the Thiel game due to an injury, but returned to his familiar territory Saturday night against Bethany...the end zone.  McNerney has scored a touchdown in 18 of the 25 games in which he has received at least one rushing attempt.  With 30 career touchdowns, McNerney is six away from tying R.J. Zitzelsberger '06 and Joey Nichols '03, both former running backs, for fifth place on the school's all-time scoring list.  

RE-HIRED:  A week after taking over the Presidents' quarterback duties, junior wideout Alex Baroffio returned to wide receiver against Bethany and caught eight passes for 61 yards and one touchdown.  He is fifth in NCAA Division III in receptions (8.8 per game) and 15th in punt return average (14.8 ypr)

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