DOVER, Del. - The Wesley College Football team overcame a 14-point first quarter deficit, scoring 59 unanswered points to earn a 59-14 victory over New Jersey Athletic Conference rival William Paterson University and clinch their second straight NJAC Crown.
The Wolverines finish their regular season with an 8-2 mark and an 8-1 record in the NJAC, tied with Frostburg State for the best mark in conference play. Though the Wolverines will be named Co-Champions along with the Bobcats, Wesley earns the conference's automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament through the head-to-head tiebreaker, owning a 43-7 win over the Bobcats earlier in the season.
Nick Falkenberg tossed a career-high five touchdown passes on 19-for-24 passing. Alex Kemp caught eight passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns, while Tory Robinson and Jamar Baynard each caught a receiving touchdown as well. Baynard ran for 84 yards and a touchdown, tying Wesley's program record for career rushing touchdowns with his 45th career rushing score.
Samer Manna led the defense with 10 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble receovery. Anthony Brinkley finished with three tackles and a pair of interceptions. Stephen Yorkman recorded five tackles and a sack for the Wolverines, who held the Pioneers scoreless for the final three quarters of play.
Wesley looked sluggish in the early going, allowing the Pioneers a free 14 points to open the contest. William Paterson quarterback James Waldron rushed for a pair of scores in the first eight minutes to put the Pioneers up 14-0. It took the Wolverines until their final offensive play of the first quarter to score. Falkenberg found Kemp on a 47-yard post pattern to put the Wolverines on the board.
After a stop by the Wesley defense, Falkenberg found Kemp again, this time for a 43-yard pitch-and-catch to tie the game with 12:00 remaining in the second quarter. The Wolverine offense scored three more times in the second frame to take a 35-14 into the halftime break. Bryce Shade and Jamar Baynard each rushed for second quarter scores and the Kemp-Falkenberg Connection struck again in the final minute of the half to give the Wolverines a 21-point halftime advantage.
In the third quarter the Wolverines opened with a scoring drive capped by a Baynard touchdown reception. The Navy and White defense caused four straight Pioneer drives to end with a turnover, forcing two fumbles and picking off a pair of passes to curtail the WPU offense. The Wolverine offense turned those turnovers into 10 points, cashing in on great field position with a touchdown pass to Tory Robinson and a 29-yard field goal by Eric Speidel.
With a 52-14 lead entering the fourth quarter, the Wolverine offense ran out the clock with the remaining time dwindling away. In the final frame, Khaaliq Burroughs ran the offense down to the goal line and finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run, making it 59-14. The Wesley defense got another stop and the Wolverines kneeled out the remaining time to clinch the win and the NJAC Championship.
Wesley will learn their fate in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, November 13, at 6:00 p.m. when the NCAA releases their tournament field during the NCAA Division III Football Selection Show.