UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio – For the first time since 2008, the NCAA Quarterfinals will not include the Wesley College Football team. The Wolverines fell 20-17 in double overtime to the John Carroll Blue Streaks on Saturday at Don Shula Stadium.
Nick Falkenberg threw 13-for-30 for 88 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked nine times by the Blue Streak defense. Jamar Baynard ran for 62 yards on 19 carries and caught a receiving touchdown in overtime. Alex Kemp led the Wesley wide receiving corps with 46 yards through the air.
On defense, the Wolverines combined for four interceptions with one each from DaJahn Lowery, Andre Connally, Roderick Caine, and Cappadonna Miller. Miller led the team with nine tackles while Caine had three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a sack.
The Wolverines received the opening kickoff but had their opening drive stalled by the Blue Streak defense. After a long punt by Cooper Bentz the Wolverine defense came away with a huge play to put the Wolverines on top in the early going. On a deep post pattern, the ball bounced off the hands of a JCU receiver and popped into the air where Andre Connally snatched it out of the air and returned it 32 yards down the right sideline for a score. An Eric Speidel extra point put the Wolverines ahead 7-0.
The Wesley offense was outgained in the first quarter 74-65, but still held a 7-0 lead at the end of the period. In the second, the Blue Streaks came back to tie the game on a drive going through the air. Three of the four plays went through the air as the home team went 73 yards on four plays finishing with a 17-yard touchdown pass to level the score at 7-7.
Both teams struggled to generate offense throughout the first half. The Wolverines had a hard time protecting Nick Falkenberg as the quarterback was sacked several times in the first half as the Blue Streak front four generated a lot of pressure on the Wesley pocket. The Wolverines defense made plays when they needed to, holding the Blue Streaks to just seven points in the first half. Just when it appeared the Blue Streaks would take the lead Cappadonna Miller made his third interception of the postseason with 1:04 remaining to curtail their offensive efforts.
In the second half, the Wolverines used big defensive plays and a "Bend but don't Break" mentality to hold the Blue Streaks scoreless throughout the third and fourth quarters. The Wesley offense could not find the end zone either as they were smothered by a stout defensive line. The Wolverines dominated the field position battle with Cooper Bentz blasting multiple punts of 60 yards, including a new career-high 67-yarder and pinning the Streaks inside their own five-yard line on two separate occasions. The Wolverine offense could not capitalize on their field position and instead the game went to overtime.
In the first overtime period, the Wolverines allowed a quick touchdown to the Blue Streaks but responded on a clutch fourth-and-six conversion when Nick Falkenberg found Jamar Baynard on a quick slant across the middle for a game-tying score. The team grabbed a quick first down and overcame a pair of incomplete passes on second and third down to reach the end zone on their last attempt to tie the game at 14-14.
In the second overtime, Wesley had the ball first but were forced backward on three straight sacks by the Blue Streak defense. Faced with a 47-yard field goal, Eric Speidel drilled the career-long kick, setting a new Wesley College school record to put Wesley ahead 17-14.
The Blue Streak offense took the field needing a touchdown to win. The squad gained a handful of yards on a screen play and then pulled out a play-action pass to the right, finding a tight end sneaking into the flat. Anthony Leonetti caught the ball out in the flat and mushed his way into the end zone to give John Carroll the score and the win.
Wesley finishes their season with a 9-3 record, reaching the NCAA Second Round after beginning the year with a 1-2 mark. The Wolverines strung together eight straight wins including an NCAA Tournament victory over Stevenson University before seeing their season end in Ohio once again.
The Wolverines graduate several outstanding seniors after their final game of the season. The Wolverines' senior class posted an overall record of 42-10 including four NCAA Tournament berths, eight NCAA Tournament victories, and an NCAA Regional Crown and Semifinal berth. They will always be a part of the Wolverine Family.