MERCER COUNTY —
Thiel place kicker Cody McClelland had no idea what was about to transpire. Neither did tight end Berend Grube. The snapper-to-holder exchange for a potential go-ahead field goal in overtime against Geneva College did not go smoothly, and the football bounced gently at the Geneva 12-yard line.
It seemed like an unfortunate missed opportunity, but Thiel's luck was about to change.
Grube heard the call, “fire, fire, fire,” and abandoned his blocking assignment in favor of a short passing route in the Geneva end zone. McClelland picked up the ball, spotted No. 82 and, under heavy pressure lobbed what would count as the game-winning touchdown pass to Grube.
Geneva's offense still had an opportunity to tie the score up, but Thiel's defense kept the Golden Tornadoes out of the end zone to put the finishing touches on a 21-14 overtime win Saturday at Alumni Stadium, which broke the team's 24-game losing streak.
A celebration ensued with many wiping tears of joy from their eyes as the Tomcats rang the Victory Bell for the first time since Oct. 21, 2009.
“I'm really excited for our kids because they hung in there over the course of two seasons that were really tough … this is a great win four our program,” said Thiel fourth-year head coach Kurt Reiser.
The Tomcats took a 14-0 lead into halftime on second-quarter touchdown runs by Josh Potter and Andrew Smith from 2- and 25-yards out, respectively.
Geneva came back in the third quarter and tied up the score, 14-14, on touchdown receptions by Corey O'Patchen (38 yards) and Rocco Colavecchia (10 yards).
The Golden Tornadoes lined up for a potential 32-yard game-winning field goal with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, but Bryan Visingardi's kick sailed wide left.
Thiel's defense combined for nine pass break-ups, six tackles for loss and five sacks on the day.
The win could be a springboard for the Tomcats (1-2, 1-0 PAC), who entered Saturday's game coming off of two tough losses.
“I think it gives us a little bit of confidence moving forward,” Reiser said. “The last couple games have been pretty close, and I hope that this win will help us turn the corner.”
Thomas More 27,
CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. - The Westminster College football team dropped to the 21st-ranked Thomas More College, 27-23, on Saturday in both team's Presidents' Athletic Conference opener. The Titans were leading 23-20 with a minute remaining in the game, however the Saints scored a touchdown with 18-seconds on the game clock for the win. Westminster dropped to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the PAC, while Thomas More improved to 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the PAC.
Westminster took a 7-0 lead with 1:37 to play in the first quarter when junior quarterback Dak Britt scored on a 46-yard run. The score remained until Thomas More scored on a 43-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 with 6:19 remaining in the first half. On the ensuing Titan possession, Britt connected with senior David Wright for a 71-yard touchdown pass-and-catch. Westminster failed on a two-point attempt and led 13-3 with 3:45 remaining in the half. Thomas More scored on its next possession off a 38-yard touchdown run. Westminster stayed ahead with a 13-10 lead at intermission.
The Saints scored 10 points in the third quarter to take its first lead of the game at 20-13. Westminster, however, tied the game at 20-20 with 14:10 to play in the game when Britt scored his third touchdown with a 26-yard pass to senior Collin Wallace. The Titans regained the lead (23-20), following a 37-yard field goal from freshman Zach Baker. This was Baker's first collegiate-made field goal of his career.
With just under two minutes remaining the game, the Saint scored off a 16-yard pass for the eventual game-winner with 18 seconds left to play.
Offensively for the Titans, Britt was 12-of-18 passing for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Britt also had a game-high 152 rushing yards off 18 carries for an average of 6.9 yards a carry.
Westminster senior Derrick Orloski (Slippery Rock High) led the Titan defense with 9.5 tackles, to go along with one tackle for a loss and one sack.