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Scots Roll to Second Round After Three Overtimes

November 19, 2011

The Monmouth College football team traveled to Bloomington, IL this weekend to face the Illinois Wesleyan Titans in the first round of the NCAA Div. III playoffs after last year’s playoff hiatus.

Monmouth won the opening toss and deferred possession until the second half. Matt Batton’s opening kick travelled 67 yards before falling into the hands of Wesleyan’s P.J. Cummings. After a fifteen yard return, the Titan offense took the field from their own eighteen yard line. The Titans first play from scrimmage would set the tone for drive; a nine yard run by running back Sean Conley. On the home team’s second set of fresh downs the Scot’s defense would line up on fourth and one before Rob Gallik’s rush for one yard; first down Titans. It would take just five plays for the Titans to put the first points of the day on the board. The score came on a Gallik pass to Conley for six yards. The following PAT was good by Tony Angelos; 7-0 Titans.

The Scots opening drive would be cut short by an Alex Tanney interception. The drive started with two completions for seven and fifteen yards to Michael Blodgett and Austin Peterson. On first and ten from the IWU 47 yard line Tanney dropped back and delivered the ball across the middle. As the QB released the ball, linebacker Ryan Gresko jumped the route and picked the ball. The return was stopped after just three yards by offensive line man Todd Groth.

With the defense back on the field, the Fighting Scots were determined not to break on this drive. The first play of the drive was an eight yard pass to wide receiver Cameron Allen. Second and two brought about a holding penalty against the offense. Now, on second and twelve, it was all Monmouth. The Scot’s Corey Bishop sniffed out the Titan’s designed wide receiver run and stopped the runner after just one yard. On third and eleven Gallik’s pass fell incomplete. The Titan’s would punt on fourth and eleven.

After Blodgett’s fair catch on the punt, the Scots offense would take the field for just two plays. The first, a six yard rush by running back Trey Yocum. The second play would end in the Scot’s second turnover of the game. Tanney threw complete to Peterson but IWU’s Gresko would force the ball to the turf. The fumble was recovered by Wesleyan’s Andrew Biggerstaff.

Not to be out done, the Scots defense looked to create a turnover of their own. Freshman Preston Lumzy started the drive with a tackle for a loss of one yard. Facing second and eleven, Gallik threw incomplete. Then, on third and eleven from the Monmouth twenty six, the Titan’s took a shot for the end zone. Nate Bond made a play on the ball at the five before coming down with the interception; he would be tackled before he was able to attempt a return.

Starting the drive from their own five, Monmouth’s offense came out firing. First down featured a two yard rush by Yocum. From here on it was it an aerial show. Tanney’s next four passes found three different receivers. Tight end David Milroy caught the second down pass attempt for eleven yard to the MC eighteen yard line. Michael Davis would be the target for the next two plays for gains of twenty six and eight yards. After an illegal procedure penalty backed the Scots up eight yards to the Monmouth 44 yard line. On second and ten, Tanney found his third receiver, Blodgett, for six yards to mid field. Tanney’s third and four pass attempt was broken up by Biggerstaff. Punter Brik Wedekind’s punt would travel through the end zone for a touch back.

IWU would take over from their own twenty yard line with 4:10 left in the first quarter. The drive would cover eleven plays and end in a score. The Scots defense would force third and eleven after a Rod Ojong tackle for a loss of three yards. On third down, Gallik connected with Brett Robinson for twenty eight yards to the IWU 47. Facing third and ten after a pair of Gallik incompletions, WR Joey Driver came up with his first grab of the game for fourteen yards and a first down. A false start penalty on second down followed a seven yard rush by the IWU fullback, Cameron Blossom. On second and eight from the MC 37 yard line, Gallik connected again with Driver for twenty two yards to the MC 15 with just seconds left to play in the quarter. As the clock winded down Gallik was flushed out the pocket and rushed for two yards. After the short intermission between periods, Gallick connected again with his fullback for eleven yards to the Monmouth two yard line. The Titans would score on first and goal on a Conley rush for two yards. Angelos PAT was good putting the Scots down by two scores.

Taking over on their own 40 the Monmouth offense continued to struggle to get things moving. Tanney’s first pass fell incomplete. On second and ten, Tanney connected with his running back, Nick Law, for a four yard loss. Looking at third and long and an obvious passing down, Tanney dropped back and threw incomplete to Davis. Wedekind’s punt was downed after traveling 26 yards.

IWU’s next drive was short and sweet. After a big pass on second and eight to Driver for twenty one yards the Titans were unable to get much of a push. With rushes one three and two yards on first and second down, Gallik would throw incomplete on third and five. On fourth and five, the Titans looked to press the issue with an unconventional pass rather than a punt; Gallik threw incomplete.

The Scots would take over from their own thirty four with 10:47 left in the half. Wesleyan’s Ben Houk would blitz on first down and stop Yocum two yards shy of the line of scrimmage. On second and twelve, Peterson would get his second grab of the day for five yards to the MC 37. Tanny’s third down pass would fall incomplete. The Scots would punt the ball away on fourth and seven.

The Titan’s would take over with 9:43 in Monmouth territory. After a false start penalty on first down, Gallik handed off to Allen for a rush of four yards to the MC 30. Second and eleven featured a Gallik completion to Robinson for five yards. Gallik threw incomplete on third and six. Facing fourth and six, the Titans refused to punt for the second time; this time with different results. Gallik dropped back and found WR Mike Sloboda for twenty two yards to the MC 13. Conley rushed for no gain before a pair of Gallik incompletions led to an Angelos field goal attempt from thirty one yards out. The kick sailed through the uprights and put the Titans ahead 17-0.

The Monmouth offense was unable to put up points on their next drive. After a completion for no gain on first down, Yocum found a hole for three yards before being brought down by two Titan defenders. Junior WR Garrett Youngren came up with a third down catch for eleven yards. First and second downs would see a pair of Yocum carries for one and two yards. On third and seven, Wesleyan’s Bert Blodgett and Chris Rice shared a sack. The ensuing punt on fourth and twelve traveled 41 yards before a fair catch by Erich Bushong.

Monmouth’s Jesse Holtsclaw would cut IWU’s next drive short with an interception at the Wesleyan 31 yard line. With the momentum shift, the Scots offense would put their first points on the board. After a delay of game penalty backed the Scots up to the IWU 34 and a Tanney to Davis incompletion on first and fifteen, it was all Monmouth. Tanney connected with Blodgett and Peterson for eight and nine yards while Law rushed for seventeen yards and a TD on the drive with just 1:30 left in the half; Batton’s PAT was good bringing the Scots within ten.

Wesleyans next drive would close the half with little forward movement. Conley would rush for nine yards before Gallik would kneel to head to the locker room. This would be the first time the Scots trailed at the half this season.

The second half would open with a Blodgett kick return for 9 yards to the Monmouth 26 yard line. Motivated by the first half deficit the Scot’s offense would put together an impressive fourteen play scoring drive. The Scots ate away at the IWU defense little by little before a Yocum reception for thirteen yards. With the exception of a six yard sack, the offense gained yardage on all but two plays which ended at the line of scrimmage. Yocum rushed for seventeen yards and caught a pass for a touchdown. Other contributors were Youngren (17 rec. yds), Blodgett (6 rec. yds), Law (4 rush yds, 19 rec. yds), and Tanney added a four yard rush of his own. The five minute drive brought the Scots within three; 14-17.

Wesleyan’s next drive started with a rush for a yard and four yard completion. On third and five Gallik completed a pass to Conley for seven yards as Monmouth’s Sam Hoster forced a fumble which was recovered by Wesleyan’s Nick Varchetto. After the fumble, the Scots would force a Titan punt to the Monmouth 44 yard line.

Taking over at their own 18, the Monmouth offense went three and out. An incompletion and a Yocum rush for no gain led to a Law reception for eight yards and an ensuing Wedekind punt for 45 yards.

MC’s Ryan Flannigan decided it was time give Gallik his second interception of the day on IWU’s next drive. After Gallik connected with Tate Musselman for thirteen yards on first down, the safety intercepted the quarterback’s next pass and returned the pick one yard to the MC 39 yard line.

Unfortunately, the Scots were unable to capitalize on the turnover. The drive started out promising, Yocum broke a run for six yards on first down. Tanney found Davis open for nine yards on second and four and the following first and ten featured another Yocum rush for three yards. On second and seven, Tanney complete a screen pass to Blodgett for a loss of one yard and then was sacked for eight yards on third and eight. Wedekind’s punt on fourth and sixteen was fair caught at the IWU 20 yard line by Bushong.

The Titans opened the next drive with a fourteen yard rush by Devonte Jones. The offense struggled to the get much more of a push after the new set of downs started; a two yard rush by Conley was the most the Titans would gain before punting 30 yards to the MC 35; Blodgett’s return would be seven yards to the Monmouth 42.

Starting the drive in their own side of the field, a Yocum rush for eleven yards and a personal foul against the Titans moved the Scots into Titan territory. A pair of penalties would not deter the Scots offense from find the end zone. Nick Law rushed for eight yards and Tanney threw for thirteen yards to Blodgett. The special teams unit would take the field on fourth and nine. Batton’s field goal attempt was good from 38 yards out tying the game at seventeen with 13:17 to play in the game.

The Titan’s first drive of the fourth quarter would end in a three and out. A pair of Gallik incomplete passes led to an eight yard completion to Robinson for eight yards. Garvey’s punt on fourth down traveled 49 yards before being downed. The three play drive lasted just 1:05.

The Scots took over from their own twelve yard line with 12:03 left in regulation. The offense moved the ball to the IWU 11 yard line after a 64 yard completion from Tanney to Blodgett. On first and ten, the Scots came out in their ‘Brik-cat’ package, a variation of the Wildcat offense that has found its place among football programs all over the country which features Brik Wedekind at quarterback. Wedekind rushed for three yards before IWU’s Michael Whittington forced the ball loose and the ball was recovered by Will Jenkins creating the Scot’s third turnover of the day.

The Titan offense was had trouble getting any forward progress on their next drive. After rushes by Blossom and Jones for one and three yards, Monmouth’s Bond came up with a big stop for no gain on third and six. Garvey would punt for 35 yards before being returned by Blodgett for eight yards.

The Scot’s ensuing drive would result in yet another turnover, but this time on downs. Yocum’s pair of rushes for two yards each gave Monmouth third and six. Wesleyan’s Jenkins broke through the Monmouth front line for a two yard sack. With just under seven minutes to play and the score tied, head coach Steve Bell kept his offense on the field on fourth and eight. Tanney dropped back and found Davis open but the receiver was stopped a yard short.

The Titan’s would take over with 5:56 left in the game. Taking over from their own 28 yard line, the home team would make their way to the Monmouth 25 yard line. After a time out with 1:59 and an incompletion on second and three, Monmouth safety Erik Weber picked off the third down pass, giving the Scots possession with 1:51 left in the quarter.

Monmouth’s six play ensuing drive would result in a fifty yard Wedekind punt for a touch back; Wesleyan would kneel with thirty seconds remaining to force overtime.

Starting the extra session, Wesleyan opened with a Gallik rush for nine yards to the Monmouth 16 yard line. Gallik found Driver for nine yards to the MC four after a Conley rush for three yards. Inside the five, the Titans kept the ball on the ground. Conley rushed for three of the final four yards complemented by a one yard rush by Gallik putting the Titans up 24-17.

Needing a touchdown to keep their hopes alive, the Monmouth offense took the field. Tanney immediately found Blodgett open for sixteen yards. A Yocum rush for a loss and a false start penalty against the Scots would back the offense up to the IWU 15. Tanney connected with Blodgett once more on second and goal for a fifteen yard touchdown completion and Batton’s extra point would tie the game at twenty four.

Starting the second overtime, the Scots found their way to the IWU five yard line on fourth and two. The Scots elected to go for the sure points and sent Batton and the rest of the special teams unit onto the field to attempt the twenty three yard field goal which was good putting Monmouth up 27-24.

Wesleyan would drive to the Monmouth three before attempting a field of their own to tie the game once more at twenty seven.

In the third period of surplus football, Gallik found Allen open for nineteen yards to the MC 6. Conley rushed for two yards to the MC 4 on first and goal. Then, on second and goal from the 4, MC’s Lumzy came up big once more, as he has all year. Gallik rushed for two yards but the freshman linebacker was having no more of that; the ball popped out and #35 fell on top of it.

After the turn over, the Scots took over on the IWU 25. The drive would last just four plays. Yocum was the feature as the Scots approached the red zone. Rushes for nine and twelve yards preceded and MC false start. From the IWU 7 yard line, Tanney took the snap and handed off to his back; Yocum would scamper the seven yards to the goal line for the game winning TD; 33-27 Scots.

The Scots travel to St. Paul, Minnesota this Saturday to take on the Tomcats of the Univeristy of St. Thomas. This marks the second meeting of the two teams in three years. In 2009, the Tomcats travelled to Monmouth in the second round of playoffs and held the Scots scoreless in the second half to walk away victorious 43-21. The Scots look to get the upper hand on undefeated St. Thomas in the rematch. The game kicks off at noon Saturday, November 26th.

Andrew Farraher
Contributing Writer

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