The William Jewell College (WJC) football team hosted Division I-AA Valparaiso University on Sept. 20th for the second season in a row.
In the opening drive, the Cardinals came out quickly with a rushing touchdown by Glen Whitney, senior. On the ensuing kickoff, the Cardinals attempted an onside kick that was recovered by kicker Brandon Womack, junior. Whitney again scored on the ground to cap a successful 7-play, 52-yard drive. After blocking the extra point attempt, Valparaiso responded with a scoring drive to make the score 13-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Jewell started the second quarter with a drive that led to a 25-yard field goal by Womack, making the score 16-7. The Cardinals were able to find the endzone once more before the half when quarterback DJ Balazs, senior, rushed in from one-yard out to score on 4th down. After the failed two-point conversion attempt, the halftime score was 22-7.
Valparaiso controlled the second half by capitalizing on turnovers by the Cardinals. The Crusaders scored 32 unanswered points in the half, including an interception returned for a touchdown, to take a 39-22 lead. The Cardinals were able to reach the endzone for one last score on a pass from Nick West, junior, to Nate Egharevba, junior. The two-point conversion was rushed in by Whitney to make the final score 39-30.
Offensively, Thomas Cook Jr., junior, led the rushing attack with 20 carries for 79 yards. In the air, Balazs was 15-23 with 166 yards, and West was 10-20 with 150 yards and one touchdown. Egharevba led in receiving with eight catches for 111 yards.
Jimmy DeStafano, senior, led the defense with 11 tackles and one sack. Connor Flagel, first-year, added seven tackles, and Nick Messer, junior, recorded six tackles and an interception.
After the loss, the Cardinals fall to 1-2 (1-0) on the season. DeStafano has high expectations for the remainder of the season.
“We’re expecting to get better every day and every week. Our ultimate goal is a conference championship,” DeStafano said.
To reach success, the Cardinals will have to continue to rely on players stepping up to fill holes due to some early-season injuries.
“We’ve done a good job of reloading the positions [of injured players] and people have been able to respond to the situations thrown at them,” DeStafano said.
The Cardinals look to put together two good halves of football in front of a large crowd for the Homecoming game as they face South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Saturday at 1:00 pm at Greene Stadium.
“We expect a good atmosphere and we’ll be fired up because it’s homecoming, DeStefano said. “We hope to get a win.”