WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Emory & Henry College Football Team (5-2, 3-1 ODAC) scored 32 points in the second half en route to a 44-24 win over The Catholic University of America (3-4, 1-3 ODAC) Saturday afternoon at Cardinal Stadium. With the win, the Wasps find themselves in a three-way tie for second place in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
After a nearly scoreless first quarter, the Cardinals got on the board with 1:28 to go. Lucas Morely caught a six-yard pass from T.J. Tutone to make the score 7-0.
Emory & Henry responded with a 13-play, 71-yard drive to close the gap to 7-3 thanks to a 19-yard field goal by freshman Skyler Simcox (Abingdon, Va.) early in the second quarter.
The two teams traded possessions nearly identical to the previous pair to make the score 14-6 with 4:31 left before the intermission. Tutone hit Morely again, this time from 15 yards out and Simcox nailed a 41-yard field goal, his fourth of the season from outside 40 yards.
Catholic would increase their lead to 17-6 on a 20-yard field goal by Peter Rosa with 2:14 left on the clock but the Wasps put their "Spread-and-Shred" offense into high gear, going 49 yards in just 78 seconds to close the gap to 17-12 at the half. Sophomore quarterback Kevin Saxton (Monroe, N.C.) capped the drive with a one-yard run after passing for 43 yards on the drive.
The second half began with both teams punting on their opening two possessions, giving Emory & Henry the ball at its own 20 yardline with 7:59 on the clock. On first down, Saxton hit redshirt freshman wide receiver Tyree Ward (Stateville, N.C.) with a pass, and the transfer took it 80 yards to the end zone. With Simcox' point-after good, the Wasps took their first lead of the day, 19-17.
After the E&H defense held on fourth down at its own 30 yardline, the offense went back on the attack. Saxton hit senior wideout Jake Hess (Abingdon, Va.) with a 37-yard pass on third down to flip the field and four plays later, connected with Ward for a second touchdown pass. This time Ward's catch amounted to 13 yards, and made the score 26-17 at the end of the third quarter.
On Catholic's first drive of the final 15 minutes, Tutone rushed for 32 yards and threw for 17 yards including a 26-yard scamper to the end zone, cutting the margin to 26-24 with 11:42 left in the game.
Emory & Henry made the score 29-24 with 5:41 to play on a 38-yard field goal by Simcox, tying the school record for field goals in a game with his third make of the day.
Tutone and the Cardinals got back to work, this time reaching the E&H 23 yardline going through the air. The pass-heavy offense backfired, however, as junior cornerback Tre'von Lightfoot (Big Island, Va.) picked off a pass at the two yardline and returned it 98 yards for the touchdown. After sophomore running back Isaiah Rodgers (Canton, Ga.) connected with senior tight end Ashton Cline (Gilbert, W.Va.) for a two-point conversion, E&H saw its five-point lead widened to 36-24 with just 3:02 left in the game.
Emory &Henry senior defensive end Mitch Carter (Kingsport, Tenn.) forced a fumble on the third play of the ensuing drive, giving the Wasps the ball back at the Catholic 34 with 2:12 to play. Faced with fourth-and-five, E&H went to redshirt freshman quarterback Dominic Dunnaville (Roanoke, Va.), who ran it in from 29 yards out to put the game away and make the final score 44-24.
Emory & Henry was outgained by a slim 493-488 margin on total offense, but two turnovers by the Catholic offense proved to be fatal, resulting in 14 points for the Wasps.
Saxton finished the game 22-for-40 through the air for 320 yards and two touchdowns, rushing for 15 yards and another score. Sophomore running back Chris Thompson (Blue Ridge, Va.) had 59 yards on 11 carries while Rodgers added 49 yards on 12 attempts. Dunnaville only needed one touch of the football to go 29 yards to account for the Wasps' second rushing score.
Eight different Emory & Henry receivers caught passes with Ward tallying four catches for 100 yards and two scores, including his 80-yard catch-and-dash. Hess finished the game with five receptions for 86 yards. Simcox went three-for-three on field goals and three-for-four on extra points, marking the first time since the final game of the 2012 season that an E&H kicker has converted three field goals in a single contest.
Defensively for the Wasps, senior safety Ryan Byrd (Grottoes, Va.) led all players with 14 tackles and added a fumble recovery while senior linebacker Rennel Marshall (Rustburg, Va.) had 10 stops and sophomore defensive back Carter Harlow (Bristol, Va.) added nine tackles and five passes defended. Lightfoot also broke up five passes and made three tackles to go along with his 98-yard interception return, the longest return for a score by an Emory & Henry player in 65 years.
Catholic was led both in passing and rushing by Tutone, who accounted for 419 yards of total offense. He went 37-for-67 through the air for 325 yards and two touchdowns and ran the ball 16 times for 94 yards and a score. Leading the Cardinals' receivers was Morely with 12 catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns while Nik Echeverria had two receptions for 75 yards as 12 different CUA players had a reception on the day.
Ross Sanford notched eight tackles to lead Catholic's defense while Dave Zarkoski and Patrick Vidal added seven stops and a pass break up each.
Emory & Henry will host league-leading and No. 24 nationally-ranked Washington and Lee University (7-0, 4-0 ODAC) next Saturday at Fred Selfe Stadium. The contest, which will also serve as Senior Day for the Wasps is scheduled to kick-off at 1:00 p.m.
-photo courtesy of Dave Grace