Wheeling, W. Va. -For The second year in a row the Wheeling University Football team (1-0, 0-0) got to open the season under the lights at Bishop Schmitt Field. That opener once again came against Seton Hill on Thursday night as the Cardinals look to win their opener for the second season in a row. After a slow start on offense, the Cardinals came charging back with 28 second half points as they took down the Griffins 35-24.
The Cardinals defense played strong throughout the night, and got things started from the first possession of the game. After Seton Hill got the ball in their own 19 to start the game, the Cardinals push them back to a 3rd and 18 from their own 11-yard line. Griffin's quarterback Jake Cruz would then throw a pass right into the arms of Wheeling linebacker Jack Parry, The first interception of his career, As he set up the offense on the Griffin four yard line. The Wheeling offense would need just one play to get on the board as quarterback Javon Davis found Tre Holloway on a short corner route and the Cardinals were up 7-0 a minute and a half into the game. The Wheeling defense would bend but didn't break on the next Seton Hill possession, as the Griffins drove down to the Cardinal 35 yd line before a field goal made it a 7-3 game.
That opening touchdown would be the only score for the Cardinals in the first half as they had difficulty figuring out the Griffin defense. Wheeling would lose a fumble on the ensuing possession that set the Griffins up on the Cardinal 21 yard line and the Griffins would take advantage. They pounded in their first touchdown of the night and took a 10-7 lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the first quarter. The punters would get their work in for the rest of the half as neither defense allowed another score before halftime. Wheeling's Trey Brady and Seton Hill's Jack Wagner traded 11 puns over the next 11 possessions as both defenses held strong. For the Cardinals, it was their linebacking core leading the way with Dalton Hoover and Jack Parry flying around the field to lead the tacklers.
The Teams went into halftime with Seton Hill holding the 10-7 advantage and both offenses looking to make adjustments. After turning the ball over on their first possession of the second half, the Cardinals would come out on their third possession and find their rhythm. They went to a ground and pound offensive attack driving 44 yards on 11 plays with five different runners touching the ball during the drive. The Cardinals got the ball to the 1 yard line and Elijah Young capped off the drive with the 1st of two touchdowns on the day to give the Cardinals a 14-10 lead. That one breakthrough was all the Cardinals needed to get going as they opened up a 28 point second half attack. On the ensuing drive the Cardinals showed that they could get it done in the air.
Facing a second and 10 from their own 26 yard line Davis brought back to pass and sent a floater towards the end zone. Waiting on the other end was wide receiver Quron Winder who pulled in the catch and helped the Cardinals extend their lead to 21-10. The score would stay right there as the third quarter came to a close, but Seton Hill was driving with the ball on the Cardinal's 17 yard line. They would cap off the drive with a touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter and brought it to a four-point game at 21-17. On the following possession, the Cardinals would show a nice balance on offense, and got down to the three yard line. They once again put the ball into the gut of Young, who pounded it in again and made it a 28-17 Cardinal advantage.
The Cardinals would have one more score in them to round out the night, as after forcing a punt, Davis & company set up shop at the Griffin 35-yard line. After losing a yard on the first play, the Cardinals ran another jet sweep, this time to wide receiver Steven Mitchell, and he took it 36 yards to the house to make it a two-possession game at 35-17. The Griffins would add one more touchdown before the night was out, but it was a sealed deal as the Cardinals walked away with the 35-24 win. It was the second straight year that the Cardinals have started the season 1-0 and the 35 points was the most scored by the Cardinals in a season-opener.
The passing game was led by Davis, who finished the night 11-24, throwing for 132 yards and two touchdowns. His top target on the night was Quron Winder, who finished the evening with three catches for 56 yards and a touchdown while Tre Holloway pulled in the other receiving touchdown. On the ground, Steven Mitchell lead the group with 51 yards on the ground, 36 of those coming on his lone touchdown. Elijah Young was the workhorse for the team carrying the ball 16 times for 48 yd and two scores. Defensively it was a strong return for Dalton Hoover, who led the way with 11 tackles. He was followed by Jack Parry's career High six tackle effort, while Caleb Grant added five tackles and one sack.
The Wheeling University Football team returns to action on Saturday, September 9th, when they host Frostburg State at 1 PM.