#5 Football Rallies To Beat #16 Huntingdon

Jared MorrisDan Harris, d3photography.com
Jared MorrisDan Harris, d3photography.com

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The fifth-ranked Wesley College football team scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to defeat No. 16 Huntingdon, 31-21, on Saturday afternoon at Samford Stadium.  With the victory, the Wolverines improve to 7-1 on the season, and the win is the 200th in the football program's Division III history.

Wesley's defense forced four Hawks turnovers, and Huntingdon (5-2), who came into the game averaging 42 points per game, could muster only half of that number. The Navy & White also held HC running back Trevor Manuel to just 28 yards on 29 carries.

Justin Sottilare threw for 240 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Wolverines who did not turn the ball over for the first time this season.  Askia Jahad ran for a game-high 45 yards on 12 carries while Matt Bundy had a game-high 55 yards.  Tambua Bradford had a team-high five catches for the Wolverines.

Like every game this season, Wesley had to come from behind and trailed 14-0 just seconds into the second quarter.  The 14-point deficit is the largest that Wesley has overcome this season to win. A 43-yard field goal by Dan Tryon with 7:04 left in the first half cut the deficit to 14-3, and that is how the teams went into halftime.

Both teams were unable to score on their opening drives coming out of the break, but Sean Hopkins, who had a 41-yard punt return earlier in the game, took a punt 49 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-10 in favor of HC with 11:25 left in the third. The punt return for a score was the first in nearly four years for Wesley when Larry Beavers returned a kick 83 yards for a touchdown against Gallaudet on November 15, 2008.

After a 1-yard touchdown by Manuel, Sottilare hit Bundy with a short pass.  Bundy then shook off his defender and took the ball to the house for a 51-yard touchdown, once again cutting the deficit to four just before the end of the quarter.

An interception by Kirk Brooks, Wesley's second of the day, gave the ball back to the Wolverines at HC's 35-yard line with 12:09 left to play.  After Robert Wiggs caught a pass for 19 yards, Jeremiah Howe scored on a 7-yard pass three plays later, giving the Wolverines their first-lead of the game with just under ten minutes remaining.

Huntingdon forced a Wesley punt midway through the fourth and took over at their own 33.  The Hawks were unable to capitalize as they muffed a toss on their opening play which Sosthene Kapepula recovered for the Navy & White at the Huntingdon 29. Six plays later, Eugene Byrd scored on a six-yard run with 2:54 left to play, all but sealing the victory.

On HC's ensuing possession, the Hawks advanced the ball into Wesley territory but an interception by Michael Brandenburg ended the day for Huntingdon.

Jared Morris had a team-high eight tackles for the Wolverines, including two which went for a loss, and an interception.  Dyamond Ruffin and Kapepula each had seven stops.

Wesley hosts the Apprentice School at 1 pm on Saturday, November 3, in its regular season finale. The Wolverines will honor all of its seniors in a pregame ceremony.