By ZACH JAFFE
The Wesley College Wolverines traveled to Homewood Field in the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament, going on to defeat the Jays 42-37 after a fourth and one in the final two minutes in the Blue Jay red zone. This marks the second time in three years that the Wolverines ended the Jays’ season, after having done so two years ago by a closer closer of 29-24.
The game was a shootout from start to finish as the two teams combined for over 1,200 yards of offense and 79 points. The headliners for the teams were each of their all-Conference quarterbacks: senior Joe Callahan for the Wolverines and junior Jonathan Germano for the Blue Jays. Callahan threw for 469 yards and five touchdowns (one on the ground), and Germano matched him with 306 yards and four touchdowns as well. Junior Bradley Munday was the top receiver for the Jays with 11 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown while standout wide receiver James Okike had nine catches for 269 yards and two touchdowns for the Wolverines.
A late defensive stand didn’t seem like it would be necessary for the Wolverines, as after the Jays took a 10-7 lead, they responded with a 28-7 run of their own, starting with a one-yard run by Callahan and ending with junior Jamar Baynard’s three-yard run. With Wesley leading 35-17 with 1:56 left in the third quarter, it looked like they would easily move on to the next round.
However, the Jays fired back quickly as Germano led a nine-play, 79-yard drive in just 2:05, culminating with a nine-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Brett Caggiano. The Jays would not see the lead at 11:00 for that long, as Callahan would throw a 60-yard strike to Okike. Just like that, the Wolverines’ lead was back to 18.
Trailing 42-24, the Jays mounted another impressive, 70-yard drive, ending in Munday’s six-yard touchdown catch. Wesley marched down the field on the next drive, but on a fourth-and-one on the fourth-and-one on the Blue Jay 47, senior Tory Prati and freshman Arman Mizani stopped Maynard and gave the Jays a much-needed defensive stop. Just a few plays later, senior Brandon Cherry broke through for a 38-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to five. After failing on a two-point conversion, the score stood at 42-37.
It looked like the Wolverines were on their way to a two-possession lead as they marched down the field and saw themselves within the Blue Jay 10 instantly. However, freshman Michael Curry made the play of the season and jarred the ball loose from freshman Bryce Shade and into the hands of junior Jack Toner. The Jays marched down the field into a fourth and one in their red zone. They handed it to junior stalwart Stuart Walters but he was stopped short of the first down.
There was a lot of controversy about the fourth down, which had to be measured by the chains. The Jays were an inch short of the first down, paving the way for Wesley to win the game and send them home for the remainder of the season.
Fans on both sides of the field shouted at the call, with Jays fans screaming about the faults of the line judges, but the call wasn’t reversed and Hopkins had to give the ball over to Wesley.
After a first down conversion, all Wesley had to do was kneel three times to send the Jays packing with another five-point road win. The Blue Jays were sent back to their locker room, taking off their cleats for the last time this season.
Wesley goes on to face the No. 1 Mount Union Raiders while Hopkins ends the season with an 11-1 record. The graduating senior class finishes with a 42-5 record, the best record in any four-year period in school history.