Friday, September 6, 2013

MAC Football: Widener Plays Solidly in 33-21 Opening-Night Loss at No. 3 Wesley

No. 15 Widener built a 14-point lead in the second quarter and impressed more than a few people before third-ranked Wesley took over and dealt the visitors a 33-21 loss on opening night in Dover, DE.

Widener’s second drive under new head coach Bobby Acosta resulted in a 99-yard scoring march that included four third-down conversions and freshman quarterback Seth Klein (Wernersville, PA) completing 9-of-10 passes for 68 yards.  The last had Klein pick from two open receivers and he chose senior Jermaine Quattlebaum (Upper Marlboro, NJ), who caught one up the middle and scampered 10 yards for the score and a 7-0 lead with 7:10 left in the first quarter.

 The Wolverines got a 10-yard touchdown pass of their own with 3:21 to play in the first for a 7-7 draw.  The Pride were playing stingy defense, but quarterback Joe Callahan had time to step back in the red zone and found Steve Koudossou, who hauled one in over the middle for the equalizer.

Widener bounced right back on its next drive, continuing its fast-paced offense that at times was tough to keep up with.  Sophomore Christopher Wickes (Bear, DE) blossomed in camp and continued to show promise tonight, getting a two-yard scoring run to end an eight-play, 74-yard run for a 14-7 Pride cushion.

The Pride got the game’s first major break as an exchange for the Wolverines was fumbled and recovered by sophomore defensive tackle Stacey Sunnverville (Freehold, NJ) at the home team’s 35 yard line.  Klein converted a 33-yard pass on third down to junior Anthony Davis (Upland, PA) at the one yard line and junior Couve LaFate (Wilmington, DE), two plays later, got a two-yard touchdown run for a 21-7 lead with 9:21 remaining in the half.

Wesley later in the quarter benefitted from a short field as Sean Hopkins returned a punt 27 yards to Widener’s 25 yard line.  The one-play drive ended when Callahan found Jeremiah Howe wide open for a touchdown and a 21-14 deficit with 4:04 to play.

The Wolverines offense continued to churn when Callahan threw his third touchdown pass of the half, a five-yard fade pass to Koudossou with 12 seconds left.  Sophomore Brandon Jones (Baltimore, MD) blocked the extra point for a 21-20 Widener margin at halftime.

Klein in the first half completed 18-of-22 passes for 145 yards with Davis getting six catches for 97 yards.

Widener’s defense in the third quarter saw Wesley march into the red zone and needed a stop.  The inside line play of sophomore Shakore Philip (Bay Shore, NY) and junior John DiBiase (Mount Laurel, NJ) forced running back Eugene Byrd to fumble and the ball rolled harmlessly out of the end zone for a huge touchback.

The Wolverines offense began to wear down the Pride in the third quarter and, after much resistance, finally kicked the door in on the final play of the period.  Callahan got time to throw and once again found Koudossou, this time on a 26-yard scoring pass for a 26-21 Wesley lead before a two-point conversion failed.

Wesley’s defense shut down Widener’s offense in the second half and it forced a tired visitors defense to stay on the field longer than normal.  The Wolverines offense once again looked to the lethal combination of Callahan and Koudossou, who hooked up on a fade route for a 70-yard scoring pass and a 33-21 lead for the duo’s fourth shared touchdown.

Wesley’s offense owned the fourth quarter and, despite great early play from Widener, was just too much and improved to 3-2 in the series with three straight wins.

Callahan had a night, completing 37-of-52 passes for 510 yards and five touchdowns to help the Wolverines gain a 644-270 edge in total offense.  Koudossou had 17 receptions for 266 yards and Howe posted seven catches for 103 yards.

Klein played impressively in his first start, completing 26-of-35 passes for 189 yards and a score helped in great part to a young offensive line that held its own.  Davis, a preseason All-America on four accounts this year, had eight catches for 106 yards.

Junior Brandon Harper (Blackwood, NJ) notched 12 tackles with sophomore Tyrone Bundy (Woodbury, NJ) getting eight and a half sack for the Pride.

Widener is home next Saturday against Lebanon Valley in both teams Middle Atlantic Conference opener, starting at 1:00 pm.