Comeback Effort Not Enough as Wheeling Falls to UNC Pembroke
Pembroke, NC. – The Wheeling University Football team (3-3, 3-2) took their longest trip of the year, traveling 540 miles to Pembroke, North Carolina when they battled UNC Pembroke on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals fell behind early and battled back in the second quarter, but it wasn't enough as they fell to the Braves 34-28.
Through the first 15 minutes of play, neither team was able to move the ball very well. The only three points of the quarter were produced by UNC Pembroke after Wheeling fumbled the opening snap, setting the Braves up at the Cardinal 14-yard line. The Wheeling defense stepped up and held the Braves to a field goal. The Cardinals were held to just 34 yards of total offense in the first quarter, and the momentum shifted to the Braves towards the end of the quarter. They got the ball with 6:19 to go in the quarter, and ran the clock down to end the quarter.
The drive continued into the second quarter, and one minute later, the Braves were in the endzone to take a 10-0 lead. Wheeling would drive down and kick a field goal on the ensuing drive, but UNC Pembroke put together back-to-back touchdown drives to make the score 24-3. Wheeling got the ball back with 4:39 left in the first half, looking to get some momentum on their side. QuarterbackBrennon Norriswould lead his team on a 14 play, 78-yard, drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown pass to seniorRyan LaFollettethat brought the score to 24-9. That touchdown catch was the momentum swing Wheeling needed and they took advantage in the second half.
After the Wheeling defense came out and got a stop to start the third quarter, Wheeling got the ball again and drove down the field. Norris was 4-5 on the drive, throwing for 59 yards, on the drive and found Jaquan Davidson in the endzone for a 15-yard touchdown that made it 24-16. On the ensuing drive, UNC Pembroke was backed up at their own five yard line. The Wheeling defense drove them back and picked up a safety to make it 24-18. Wheeling would get within three points on the next drive when they drove 56 yards in five plays leading to a Matt Greenwood field goal to make the score 24-21.
However, UNC Pembroke picked up a field goal and a touchdown on their first two drives of the fourth quarter to push the score to 34-21. Wheeling would get on the board one more time on a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jaquan Davidson, but that was all they would get as they ended up falling 34-28. The loss dropped Wheeling to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in Mountain East Conference (MEC) play. They drop below the four-way tie for second place to open the day, and will have to battle back to get back into the race for the top of the conference.
Norris has his best day as Wheeling's starting quarterback to date going 24-40, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns to go along with four interceptions.Sy Alli IVfell just short of the 100-yard rushing mark, finishing the day with 97 yards and an average of 3.2 yards per carry. Davidson led the receiving corp, pulling in seven catches for 87 yards and two of Wheeling's three touchdowns on the day. On the defensive side of the ball,Josiah Wrightled the way with seven tackles and one tackle for loss whileCody Anderson,Ryan Gorman,Aaron Finch, andMax Bakereach added five tackles in the loss.
The Wheeling University Football team is back in action next Saturday when they battle Frostburg State at 1 PM