Strong memories for Drass as Wesley tops Delaware Valley 34-10 in Knapp’s weather-delayed debut

Photo by Angela Benefield
Photo by Angela Benefield

Story courtesy of Andy Walter, Delaware State News - 

DOVER, Del. — Somewhere, Mike Drass is smiling.

With their late coach on their minds, the No. 9 Wesley College football team shook off some weather delays and pulled away to a 34-10 victory over No. 17 Delaware Valley on a wet season opener Friday night at Miller Stadium.

The Wolverines reeled off 21 unanswered points in the second half to give longtime offensive coordinator Chip Knapp his first victory as a head coach — as well as finally beating the Aggies after losing to them in back-to-back season openers.

This was the first time Wesley played a football game without Drass on the sidelines in 33 years. The Wolverines' head coach for the past 29 seasons passed away in May.

Senior receiver Alex Kemp, who Drass helped convince to return for his last year of eligibility, had a big night with four catches for 112 yards including a pair of touchdown receptions. Senior quarterback Khaaliq Burroughs threw three TD passes, completing 14-for-22 passes for 265 yards with an interception. 

The contest was delayed 45 minutes at the start while water was pushed off the field following the heavy rain that hit Dover. Then, less than five minutes into it, the contest was stopped for 30 minutes because of lightning.

Originally slated to start at 7 p.m., the game didn't end until 11:20 p.m.

Wesley was hanging onto a 13-10 advantage in the third quarter when Kemp helped put the Wolverines in control. After a nice-play fake by Burroughs froze the Aggies' secondary, he hit Kemp in stride at the 45.

Kemp pulled away from there for a 78-yard touchdown reception that pushed the Wolverines' lead to 20-10.

When Wesley got the ball back, Burroughs did it again, this time finding receiver Ruhann Peele down the sideline for a 50-yard TD catch. The Rutgers transfer fought his way into the end zone at the end to give the Wolverines a 27-10 advantage with 1:32 left in the third quarter.

A fumble recovery at the DelVal 11 set up Wesley's last TD as Abe Mansaray scored on a four-yard run with 11:01 left to give the Wolverines their 34-10 cushion.

After all the weather delays, the two teams had a back-and-forth first half.

Trailing 3-0, Wesley got on the board on its first drive of the season when Burroughs fired a 22-yard touchdown strike to Kemp.

Then, in a big turn of momentum, Wesley's defense made a goal-line stand, stopping DelVal's Deshaun Darden on a quarterback sneak from the one early in the second quarter.

The Wolverines then turned around and marched 99 yards, with E.J. Lee scoring on an eight-yard run up the middle to stretch Wesley's advantage to 13-3 with 6:28 left in the first half.

The drive was kept alive when the Aggies roughed the punter at the Wesley punter.

A long return on the ensuing kickoff set up a one-yard scoring run by Darden with 3:10 left in the first half.

The Wolverines were driving just before intermission when Burroughs fumbled on a sack at the DelVal 25. Wesley went into halftime with a 13-10 lead but not before the Aggies' 32-yard field goal on the last play of the half hit the right upright.

Just trying to get the game played was a struggle from the beginning.

After the 45-minute delay at the start, the Aggies took the opening kickoff and, after a long return and a Wesley penalty, started at the Wolverines' 38. DelVal picked up a pair of first downs before Wesley's defense stopped the Aggies at the eight.

Nick Restaino hit a 24-yard field goal to put DelVal up, 3-0, 11:13 left in the first quarter.

Newcomer Marcellus Pack – the former Dover High standout – returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to the Aggies' 45. But that's when the contest was stopped after the referee spotted lightning near the stadium.

Finally, though, the lightning held off and Wesley picked up the victory. A smiling Knapp got dumped with Gatorade in the closing seconds.

After a bye week, the Wolverines will once again hold "Friday Night Lights" at Drass Field when they open conference play when they host the TCNJ Lion on Sept. 14. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.