Football's Valiant Comeback Falls Short
A valiant comeback attempt by the 14th-ranked Wesley
College football team came up just short as it fell to No. 1 Mount
Union, 62-59, in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon at Mount
Union Stadium. The Wolverines conclude the season at 10-3 while the
Purple Raiders move to 13-0 and will take on North Central in the
Semifinals on December 14.
Sophomore quarterback Joe Callahan
made NCAA and Wesley College history completing 35-of-52 passes for 633
yards and eight touchdowns. His yardage and touchdown totals break his
own Wesley single-game record and his eight TD passes is a NCAA Division
III Playoff record. His 633 passing yards are also the fourth-most in
NCAA Division III history.
Callahan's most frequent target was junior wide receiver Steve Koudossou
who caught 11 passes for a Wesley single-game and NCAA Playoff record
273 yards and two touchdowns. Koudossou is now the Wolverines all-time
leader with 150 career receptions for 2,508 yards. Jeremiah Howe (6-101-1) and Bryce Shade
(3-102-2) also went over the century mark receiving which is the first
time that Wesley has had three 100-yard receivers in a single-game.
Things could not have been scripted much worse for the Wolverines in
the first quarter as they fell behind, 14-0 just 82 seconds into the
game. After Mount Union returned the opening kickoff to its
33-yardline, BJ Mitchell took the first play from
scrimmage 67 yards for a touchdown. Callahan's second down pass was
then deflected and intercepted, and Kevin Burke hit Sherman Wilkinson for a 23-yard touchdown on the very next play to go up by 14 points.
With the momentum in their favor, the Raiders then recovered their
onside kick attempt but the Wolverines defense, led by junior Sosthene Kapepula
who tallied a game-high 11 tackles with a tackle for loss, forced a
turnover on downs. Kapepula finished the season with 110 tackles,
becoming just the eighth Wolverine to tally over 100 tackles twice in a
career. Both teams then traded three-and-outs, but after a
second-straight drive that resulted in no first downs, Wesley punted and
Luc Meacham returned it 76 yards a touchdown to extend the lead.
Two more interceptions thrown by Callahan led to ten Mount Union points, who led 31-0 after the first quarter.
put Wesley on the board with 11:40 left in the second quarter, the
first of three second quarter touchdown passes thrown by Callahan, with
the others going to Howe and Koudossou. A field goal by Mount Union's Edward Ruhnke as time expired in the second quarter gave the Purple Raiders a 48-20 halftime lead.
The Wolverines scored all of the points in the third quarter with
both drives culminating in passing touchdowns to Baynard, who caught
seven passes for 74 yards and three scores. Coming into the game,
Baynard, a Middletown High School product, had just nine catches for 66
yards. Kyle George had an identical 74 receiving yards on six grabs.
A 16-yard touchdown strike to Shade with 11:51 left in the fourth
made the ballgame a one touchdown game at 48-41 with 11:51 left to play.
However, Mount Union was quick to respond with a seven-play, 79 yard
drive that ended with a 41 yard touchdown pass to Wilkinson with 8:46
Callahan then led the Navy & White on another quick downfield
drive, completing 4-of-5 passes for 56 yards to get inside the Mount
Union 10-yard line. On a second down play, Callahan scrambled right but
was picked off by Tre Jones in the endzone, who took it out and was tackled by Shade at the one-yard line.
On the very next play, defensive tackles Brenton Barnes and Payton Rose stuffed BJ Mitchell for a safety, making the score 55-43 in favor of the Purple Raiders with 5:45 left in regulation.
Wesley was unable to capitalize on the extra possession as it fumbled
the free kick, allowing Mount Union to take over inside the red zone.
After two runs by Mitchell only gained one yard, Burke took the read
option run 16 yards for a score, extending the lead to 62-43 with 3:51
left to play, and setting a new record for combined points in a Wesley
On the very next drive, Callahan hit Shade down the middle of the
field and he outran the Raider defenders for an 81-yard score with 2:54
left to play.
squib kick then went out of bounds, giving Mount Union the ball at its
own 36-yardline. Mitchell was limited to just two yards on each of the
first two plays and after a Wesley timeout with 2:06 left, Malik Jones
beat the tackle and sacked Burke for a five-yard loss, leading to
another timeout and a punt which was fair caught by Shade at the
Wesley-28 with less than two minutes to play.
Just like the Johns Hopkins playoff game two weeks ago, Koudossou got
the ball from Callahan when it mattered most. Callahan first found his
speedy receiver for 16 yards and again for a 56-yard score.
Koudossou's final catch of the was his 78th of the year, setting a new
Wesley single-season record. Head Coach Mike Drass
then went for two and Callahan once again scrambled right and found
George open in the endzone, making it a field goal game with 1:30 left.
With just one timeout remaining, Wesley's onside kick attempt was no
good and Mount Union ran out the clock to advance to the seal the
victory despite allowing its most points in a Playoff game.
Burke finished 16-of-27 for 280 yards and three scores while also
rushing for two touchdowns for the Purple Raiders who did not turn the
ball over once today compared to six for the Wolverines. Mitchell
finished with 27 carries for 134 yards but after the first play from
scrimmage was held to just another 67 yards on 26 carries.