1999 Flashback - W&J2

By Bill Byham

Washington and Jefferson had just enough offense to play their way past the home standing Lycoming College Warriors as the Presidents won 14-7 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Division III national tourney. The Presidents had two long sustained drives to overcome a great defensive effort by Lycoming's nationally ranked unit.

After the Warriors had jumped out in front with a spectacular 56-yard pass interception return by Lycoming's Sean Graf, the Presidents responded with a nine play, sixty yard drive to tie the ball game at 7-7. They then took the opening second half kickoff and ran off eleven plays that covered sixty nine yards and resulted in what turned out to be the game winning points.

The rugged win moved the Presidents to a 9-2 overall record as they awaited the outcome of a Hardin-Simmons - Washington College game. W and J will get the winner of that game next Saturday. For Lycoming the season ended with the Warriors closing with a 9-1 overall record. Oddly, W and J played Thiel College in the final regular season game and Theil opened the scoring on a pass interception and touchdown run. W and J came back and scored 51 unanswered points for a final 51-6 win. One week later and on their second offensive series ,Chris Locher's pass was intercepted by Graf who was bumped, popped and knocked around on his way for the score to give Lycoming the lead with 3:06 left in the period. John Shaffer added the point for the 7-0 score.

On the ensuing kickoff the Presidents ran it back to their own 40-yard line. After a running play netted two yards the Warriors gave the W and J drive momentum with a 15-yard pass interference call which moved the ball to the Lycoming 47-yard line. Locher then hooked up with Ryan Silvis for three first down passes as the quarter ended with the Presidents resting at the Lycoming 9-yard line. Two plays into the period, Locher finished off the drive with a scoring pass to running back Jon Pons. Jonathan Kralic added the point to tie the game at 7-7 with 14:15 left in the second period. That was the score at the intermission and it was W and J that came out of the locker room intent on scoring and getting ahead in the game where the defenses were dictating the pace of play.

They took the kick off and Locher (13 for 23/ 2 tds/ 1 int) engineered a very controlled drive that covered sixty nine yards and ended when the junior QB found Silvis (10 for 121 yds/ 1 td) in the end zone for a 14 yard scoring pass. Kralic added the point for the 14-7 score. What was not expected in the Lycoming camp was a break down of their offensive machine. The Presidents defense did a lot to make this happen as they constantly harassed Quarterback Ryan Swailes (14 for 40 and 2 Int) while limiting the Warrior rushing attack to just 52 yards. Overall Lycoming had 66 offensive snaps for a total of just 186 yards but that is not to say that Lycoming did not have golden opportunities to come back and at least tie the score.

After the W and J score the Warrior defense simply shut the door. After each offensive unit failed to move the ball, W and J punted to Graf at the Lycoming 44-yard line and the senior, with some fine blocking, ran it back thirty six yards to the W and J 26.

Three plays later the Warriors were on a 3rd and 12 and Swailes went for the score but Owen George intercepted the ball in the end zone to end the threat. After each offense had another futile Shaffer dropped a punt dead at the Presidents 7-yard line. On the first play Bud Nichols fumbled the ball and Lycoming's Todd Riescher recovered it at the W and J 9-yard line. Davis had two runs for a total of four yards before Swailes was sacked by Rod Meyers for an 8-yard loss. Shaffer's field goal attempt was wide left as Lycoming again came up empty. The Warriors had two more offensive tries. One had Lycoming having the ball for nine plays but ended up on an incomplete pass on a 4th and six.

The Warriors last possession excited the home fans with the very late move starting with 2:27 left in the game. starting from their own 8-yard line Swailes passed for three first downs in a row. One to Tim Dumas (16 yds), a second to Joe Spang (10 yds) and a third to Joe Hanna (16 yds) to move the Warriors out to their own 49-yard line. But the drive ended right there as a pass to Dumas fell incomplete . On the next play, as Swailes scrambled for an apparent first down, Lycoming was flagged for holding. Hanna hauled in the next pass for a seven yard gain but the next two attempts missed and the game was over. The Lycoming defense ended the season by allowing just 69 points in ten games. In the process they did not allow a rushing touchdown but it obvious that unit would give that effort away for a win in this first playoff game.

This is the 12th time that the Presidents have made it to the post season play and the Warriors 10th time. Both teams have played in the Division III championship game but are a combined 0-4 at that level.