BELTON, Tex. – Behind the shoulders of Shane
McSweeny, the seventh-ranked Wesley College football team defeated No. 3
Mary Hardin-Baylor, 27-24, Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Division III
Quarterfinals at the Crusaders' Tiger Field. The Wolverines will travel to
Mount Union (13-0) on Saturday, December 10 for the NCAA Semifinals where the
winner will play in the Stagg Bowl.
A senior from Bensalem, Pa., McSweeny threw for 253 yards on
15-22 passing and four scores. He also ran for a game-high 114 yards on 25
carries. A frequent target of McSweeny's was Matt Barile who hauled in
five passes for 136 yards and a score.
Wesley received the ball to open the game, and after the
opening kickoff went for a touchback, the Wolverines embarked on a 17-play
drive that consumed over nine minutes of clock. A 16-yard pass from McSweeny
to Barile on third-and-eight got the drive going and culminated with McSweeny
finding Sean McAndrew in the endzone on a 15-yard throw.
The teams would go scoreless the remainder of the first
quarter before a 43-yard field goal by the Crusaders cut the Wolverines lead to
7-3 with 9:27 left in the second.
McSweeny then led Wesley to touchdowns on its next two
drives, first connecting with Askia Jahad on a four-yard pass and then
with Steven Koudossou on a 78-yard pattern. Before finding Jahad for
the score, McSweeny and Barile found each other for 42 and 12 yards on back-to-back
UMHB got possession back late in the second quarter and
drove down the field before Mike Asiedu picked off his first of two
passes on the day. The interception was one of three recorded by the
Wolverines who went into the half up 21-3.
Both teams did not see the endzone in the third quarter but
Wesley picked off Bailey on the Crusaders' first two drives in the second
half. A ball first found the hands of freshman linebacker Sostene Kapepula
for the first turnover to stop a driving Purple & Gold attack before Asiedu
once again picked off LiDarral Bailey on the next Crusader possession.
Mary Hardin-Baylor would not go down without a fight as they
scored quick in the fourth quarter but Wesley answered right back with a
22-yard run by McSweeny and a 56-yard touchdown strike to Barile to give the
Wolverines a 27-10 advantage with 13:06 left in the fourth quarter.
A blocked extra point kept the score at 27-10 and UMHB found
the endzone on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to 27-24 with just
under six minutes remaining.
The Wolverines ate up nearly three minutes off the clock
before turning the ball over on downs just past midfield but Kapepula broke up
another Bailey pass on fourth-and-three at Wesley's 41-yard line to seal the
victory for the Navy Blue & White.
Kapepula was one of four Wolverines with a least 10 tackles as he and Jeff Morgan had 14 apiece. Kirk Brooks also was credited with 12 while Paul Gilstrop added ten.