DOVER, Del. - The seventh ranked Wesley College Football team took on the No. 25 Delaware Valley Aggies on Friday night in a battle of a pair of top teams in the nation. The Wolverines came up short in their season opener, falling 21-14 to the Aggies at Drass Field. The defeat was Wesley's first loss in at home to begin the season since 2003.
Jamar Baynard rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown and Bryce Shade hauled in nine passes for 112 yards and a touchdown as Wesley suffered its first season-opening loss since 2010. Nick Falkenberg drew the start at quarterback for the Wolverines throwing for 116 yards while Dan Kesack also made an appearance under center, tossing for 135 yards and a score. The two quarterbacks combined for four interceptions as the Navy and White committed five total turnovers in the game.
Wesley began the game on a high note, forcing a turnover on downs on the Aggies first drive and converting offensively for a touchdown on the ensuing possession. Baynard punched in a two-yard run up the gut for a touchdown, capping a 55-yard drive that gave the Wolverines a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Delaware Valley responded later in the quarter with a tying score. The Aggies started their drive with good field position and went 43 yards on seven plays for the game-tying touchdown, making it 7-7 with 12:38 to play in the first half.
The Wolverines were forced to punt on their next offensive possession and the Aggies scored again, pushing the ball 84 yards downfield on five plays to take a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
Wesley responded with a long touchdown drive of their own. With Dan Kesack under center, the Wolverines went 75 yards on 16 plays to punch in the tying touchdown. Kesack found Bryce Shade standing alone in the end zone and pitched him a six-yard pass for the score. Speidel converted the extra point to tie it at 14-14.
Just before the half, Delaware Valley regained the lead with another scoring drive. The Aggies went 86 yards on nine plays to take a 21-14 lead with 24 seconds remaining in the first half. Wesley attempted to respond but time ran out on the Navy and White and they headed into the locker room trailing by a touchdown.
In the second half the Wolverine defense stepped up, holding the DVU offense scoreless on six drives and yielding just 85 yards of total offense in the second half. The Wesley offense could not take advantage though. The Wolverines mounted multiple drives, but saw each end without a score.
In the final quarter, the Wolverines mounted a pair of promising drives. With 5:39 remaining, Nick Falkenberg built up the team with a few good plays to move the offense forward, but on the fifth play of the drive had the ball tipped at the line of scrimmage and into the hands of a DVU defender.
The Wesley defense came up large once again, getting a hand on the attempted field goal to drive the kick wide and set up the offense for another chance at a game-tying drive. With just over a minute remaining, Falkenberg found Shade on a long bullet pass down the middle. The shifty receiver found himself with space to run and took off toward the Delaware Valley end zone but had the ball stripped from behind. The Aggies recovered and ended any hopes at a game-tying touchdown for the Wolverines.
Delaware Valley ran down the remaining 1:05 on the clock, punting on the final play of the game. Wesley sent 10 defenders in an attempt to block the kick, but couldn't make a play on the ball. Bryce Shade attempted to elude the Aggies' defenders but to no avail as the clock ran out on the Wolverines.
Wesley falls to 0-1 for the first time since the 2008 season. In that year, the Wolverines also lost their opener to Delaware Valley, but came back to win their nine remaining regular season games and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Wesley will look to repeat their 2008 success for the rest of their season. The Navy and White will face Frostburg State at home on Saturday, Sept. 10.