College Football: St. Francis rallies to beat Robert Morris 28-25
By Dennis Nelson For Sun-Times Media October 12, 2013 10:28PM
Robert Morris' Coleon Leverson tries to tackle St. Francis' Trace Wanless on Saturday.| Dennis Nelson/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 14, 2013 6:58AM
Call them The Comeback Saints!
Trailing 17-0 at the half, No. 25 St. Francis rallied for a 28-25 Mid-States Football Association win over Robert Morris on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Joliet.
The victory puts USF at 4-2 and 2-0 in the MFSA Mideast. Robert Morris dropped to 4-3, 1-1.
“We can’t do anything easy,” USF coach Joe Curry said. “Our kids came out in the second half and were resilient. We weren’t going to win the game on one play. We talked about going 1-0 on every play and that’s what we tried to do.”
Defensively, the Saints allowed just 72 yards of offense in the second half. Offensively, senior quarterback E.J. White (17-of-28, 322 yards) ran for a score and threw for two more as the Saints rallied to victory for the second time this year.
“The coaches said you can’t score 17 points on one drive,” White said. “The defense did a great job. They didn’t score any points on offense in the second half. For our defense to shut them out in the second half was huge.”
“In the locker room, it was completely silent,” junior defensive lineman Jeff Cascella said of the Saints’ halftime adjustments. “As a defense, we looked at each other and decided to suck it up and get some stops.”
Robert Morris scored on a pair of 70-plus yard plays in the first quarter to establish command. On its first play from scrimmage, Lamont Wims ran 74 yards for a touchdown, giving the visitors a 7-0 lead with 10:37 left in the first quarter.
Quarterback Matt Westerkamp hit Deshawn Weaver for a 78-yard strike and a 14-0 lead with 4:24 left in the first quarter. Josh Techeira’s 40-yard field goal midway through the second quarter gave the Eagles a 17-0 lead at the half.
“We were driving the ball up and down the field in the first half. We just had a few miscues,” Curry said.
USF turned the ball over three times and was flagged for 11 penalties in the game.
In the second half, after a defensive stop, White ran six yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 17-7 with 11:30 left in the third. Later in the quarter, White found senior tight end Dustin Greenwell for a 28-yard touchdown pass to shave the lead to 17-14 with 3:27 left in the third.
A 26-yard punt return by Allen, who set the all-time return yardage record earlier in the day, set up the score that put the Saints ahead. Anthony Hulbert ran to pay dirt from two yards out to give the Saints a 21-17 lead with 9:11 in the fourth quarter.
After a defensive stop, Allen caught a 78-yard touchdown pass from White on the first play from scrimmage to bump the lead to 28-17 with 8:01 left in the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Moe Almasri ran 88 yards for a score for the Eagles, cutting the lead to 28-23 with 7:49 to play in the game. The 2-point try was no good.
On the Saints’ first play from scrimmage, Hulbert ran 79 yards for what appeared to be a score. However, a block in the back at the 14 eventually forced USF to attempt a 20-yard field goal. It was wide left.
On the Eagles’ next possession, Toney Brown intercepted Westerkamp at the 3-yard line to end the threat. However, Robert Morris junior defensive back Doug Sachtleban tackled Hulbert in the end zone on a third-down run for a safety with 1:28 left in the game, cutting the Saints’ lead to 28-25.
After the free kick, Robert Morris took over on its 49 but the Saints defense held.
“I couldn’t ask for any more out of those guys,” Curry said.