Sunday, October 6, 2013

Widener University football bounces back with 31-10 victory at Stevenson

Owings Mills, MD - Widener set the tempo in the first half and pulled away in the second to hold off a pesky Stevenson unit for a 31-10 Middle Atlantic Conference win in Owings Mills, MD.

Freshman Michael Bennett (Maple Glen, PA), who quietly has put together a solid year lost in the offensive and defensive prowess, had an immediate impact after Widener's first drive when his 44-yard punt went out of bounds at the Stevenson seven yard line. On the ensuing play, sophomore end Stacey Sunnerville (Freehold, NJ) continued his standout year by sacking quarterback John Gasparovic in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 Pride lead.
The following drive was a 66-yard march that required just six plays to give Widener a 9-0 cushion. Freshman quarterback Seth Klein(Wernersville, PA) was 6-for-6 on the drive that ended with a 40-yard fade to pass to a wide-open junior All-America Anthony Davis(Upland, PA) with exactly seven minutes left in the first.Stevenson got some momentum back on the next drive by going 49 yards in 11 plays, before Widener's pass defense forced a long field goal. After Charlie Cornell did not get to attempt Stevenson's first try thanks to a bad snap, he converted on a 40-yard boot with 3:22 remaining in the first for a 9-3 deficit.

The Mustangs had been stymied by the Pride's tough defense, but decided to gamble on fourth and goal at the one yard line and it paid off. William Hill-Pensamiento ran off tackle and his second effort got him in the end zone with 11:14 left in the first half for a 10-9 Stevenson lead.

Stevenson on its next drive got to the Widener six after Gasparovic hit Madison Townley on a 36-yard pass. But the defense came through on the following play as Dylan Ditmer (Exton, PA) stripped running back Marcus Holley and fellow senior Colin Masterson(Swarthmore, PA) recovered with 5:18 left in the half for a mammoth turnover.

When the Mustangs (3-2, 2-2 MAC) got the ball back, a second botched field goal attempt gave the Pride the ball and a shorter field. This time, Widener capitalized with Klein finding senior Jermaine Quattlebaum (Upper Marlboro, MD) over the middle for a 16-yard touchdown with 61 seconds to go in the half. Klein then hit junior Adam Marcucci (Sicklerville, NJ) on the two-point conversion for a 17-10 cushion going into halftime.

Klein, who entered the contest third in the country with 32.5 completions per game and sixth with a .751 completion percentage, in the first half completed an astonishing 20-of-22 passes for 225 yards.

Knowing it would get the ball to start the second half, Widener (3-2, 3-1) had to receive immediate production from its offense and got it. Three plays after freshman Rashon Sorrell (Port Norris, NJ) returned the kickoff 42 yards to the Pride's 45 yard line, Klein hit a wide-open Davis for a 55-yard scoring pass 43 seconds into the half for a 24-10 margin.

Junior Couve LaFate (Wilmington, DE) added to the scoring with a 17-yard run up the middle with 7:01 left for a 31-10 contest. That burst was set up when sophomore Christopher Wickes (Bear, DE) busted down the left sideline for a 54-yard run to the Mustangs 26 yard line.

Widener's defense did its part in the second half, forcing Stevenson into three punts and two turnovers that all but clinched the win. The Mustangs had 167 yards of offense in the second half, but it seemed far fewer than that.

Sophomore Tyrone Bundy (Woodbury, NJ) had 11 tackles, Ditmer and Masterson notched 10 apiece and Sunnerville amassed two sacks to bump his conference lead to nine. Ditmer forced two fumbles, freshman Joshua Cooper (Elizabethtown, PA) had one with Masterson and senior Stephon Singleton (Philadelphia, PA) each getting an interception.

Klein completed 27-of-33 passes for 303 yards and three scores. Davis, who entered fourth in the nation with 10.3 reeptions per contest, had nine catches for 162 yards and moved into sixth place in school history with 146 career receptions.

Wickes closed with 11 rushes for a career-best 107 yards.

"It was good to see our kids respond to the loss last week (to Lycoming) and they showed no quit," Widener coach Bobby Acosta said. "That's how we know it is coming together. I'm excited. It's like a second wind for our team. I think we got our run game going on against a tough Stevenson team. I think Seth was dynamic and he's only going to get better. The defense played a tough game. Stacey got the safety in the first series and he's a dynamic player. We're really going to get better with the fundamentals."

Gasparovic completed 17-of-31 passes for 241 yards and Trey Lee had 21 rushes for 111 yards. Donnell Brown notched 11 tackles with Brandon Ludwig and Dondre Brown getting two sacks apiece for the Mustangs.

Widener has a bye next week and is back in action October 19 on Homecoming Weekend vs. Misericordia. Game time is 1:00 pm.