Saturday, September 2, 2017

Muhlenberg Powers Past Wilkes Football 62-19 Behind Savant's Five Touchdowns

Photo Courtesy of Wilkes Sports Information
ALLENTOWN, PA – Muhlenberg’s Nick Savant rushed for a game-high 271 yards and four touchdowns while adding another score through the air to power the host Mules to a 62-19 victory over Wilkes University in both team’s season opener Saturday afternoon at Scotty Wood Stadium.

The win for Muhlenberg marks the fourth straight year the Mules have posted a season-opening victory over the Colonels ending a four-game home-away series.

The hosts wasted little time taking a 7-0 lead using only five plays to go 85 yards capped by a 41-yard touchdown run by Savant. Wilkes answered on its opening drive thanks to the play of quarterback Jose Tabora picking up where he left off last season as a starter. Tabora went a perfect 6-for-6 for 45 yards on the Colonels opening drive. He found a variety of receivers during the drive including passes to Aaron Coyne, Garrett Armstrong, Jeff Steeber and Greg Albertson moving the ball down inside the Muhlenberg ten yard line. Facing a third and goal, Tabora looked as though he was off on a designed run before pulling up and lofting a pass to a wide open Coyne in the back of the end zone to put the Colonels on the board. A Mike Hauck extra point sailed wide left as Wilkes trailed 7-6 with 6:14 left in the opening quarter.

Muhlenberg went back to its ground game on its second drive as Savant took a handoff 54 yards up the middle for his second touchdown of the day pushing the Mules lead to 13-6. The two-point conversion was broken up by Jones Mensah to keep Wilkes within one score with 5:25 left in the first quarter.

Tabora continued his perfect start on Wilkes’ next drive connecting with Armstrong for nine yards before a big 32-yard completion to the All-American tight end later in the drive moving the Colonels to the Muhlenberg 31. Tabora’s perfect passing percentage came to an end on the ensuing play as Muhlenberg safety Jake Morra picked off a throw ending the promising Wilkes drive.

Muhlenberg marched down the field for the third consecutive drive using the ground game and its senior running back Savant to do most of the damage. Savant dove in from one yard out for his third touchdown of the first half capping an 11-play, 80-yard drive extending the Mules advantage to 19-6 with 13:40 remaining in the second quarter.

After the Colonels were forced to punt, Bobby Nye’s kick bounced off a Muhlenberg player and was recovered by Jacob Brook on the Muhlenberg 34 to give Wilkes the ball back deep inside the Mules territory. From there Wilkes went back to its sophomore-to-senior combination on offense as Tabora and Armstrong continued to torch the Muhlenberg secondary on the Colonels next possession. Tabora hit Armstrong for a 24-yard gain moving the ball to the Muhlenberg three yard line. After two false start penalties and an incomplete pass, Wilkes faced a third and goal. Tabora went back to Armstrong connecting with the senior for a nine-yard touchdown completion, his first of the game, to cut the deficit to 19-13 with 9:14 left in the half following a Hauck extra point.

Savant continued his record-breaking first half this time on the receiving end taking a reception 70 yards for his fourth touchdown of the first half putting Muhlenberg up 26-13 with 7:44 left in the half. Following a Wilkes punt, Savant rushed for his fifth total touchdown of the half (fourth rushing TD) to extend the lead to 33-13 with 6:07 left in the half.

Muhlenberg added two more scores to end its opening half offensive surge including a 3-yard touchdown pass and 27-yard interception return to take a 47-13 lead at the break.

Wilkes received the ball to begin the second half and went eight plays and 67 yards to try to cut into the deficit early in the frame. Tabora hit Coyne for the combos second touchdown of the game on a third and goal scoring pass play. The two setup the ensuing scoring play with a 20-yard pitch-and-catch earlier in the drive as Wilkes trailed 47-19 with 12:34 on the third quarter clock.

The 28-point deficit would be the closest the Colonels would come in the second half of play as Muhlenberg posted one touchdown in the third and another final score in the fourth to seal the 62-19 non-league win at home.

Tabora finished 23-for-35 passing for 195 yards and three touchdowns. It marked the second time the sophomore signal-caller has thrown for three touchdowns and the fourth time throwing two or more scores through the air. Armstrong was a matchup problem all day for the tough Muhlenberg defense totaling career-highs in receptions (10) and yards (121) while grabbing one score. Coyne made four receptions for 36 yards and two scores.

Tabora led the Wilkes ground attack with 31 yards on eleven carries. Wilkes was limited to just 68 yards on the ground compared to Muhlenberg’s 403 yards and six touchdowns.

Savant posted a career day for the Mules with 271 yards and four scores on 18 attempts. He also added two catches for 80 yards and one score. The Muhlenberg offense was rolling from start to finish totaling 607 yards of offense on 69 plays.

Lukas Wood led the Wilkes defense with 11 tackles while Brook followed with eight stops in his first game on the defensive side of the ball at safety.

Morra topped Muhlenberg defensively with 14 tackles and one interception.

Wilkes (0-1) makes its home debut Saturday when the Colonels welcome Lebanon Valley College (0-1) for a Middle Atlantic Conference opener at 1:00 p.m. at Schmidt Stadium. LVC fell 48-7 against Franklin & Marshall in its home opener.