Offense Rolls to Early Lead, Defense Hangs on Late To Win Opener

Offense Rolls to Early Lead, Defense Hangs on Late To Win Opener

Sewanee, TN, 9/18/21 – The Blue Jay Football team had to wait an extra two weeks for their season opener.  It ended up being worth the wait.  The Blue Jays rolled into Tennessee and to a 30-9 lead Over Sewanee: The University of the South, halfway through the third quarter and appeared to be cruising to a convincing road win.  Sewanee had other plans and the Blue Jays would have to weather a furious comeback.  When a 38-yard field goal attempt by Sewanee sailed wide left with nine seconds left, the entire Blue Jay contingent sighed with relief as they secured a 30-29 season opening victory.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Blue Jays struck first.  The Blue Jays would open up the scoring in dramatic fashion.  On the first play of a drive that started at the Blue Jay 19-yard line senior running back Taylor Dobbins (Laurie, Mo. / Versailles) took a hand of running right cut back to the middle caught a couple blocks and then outran the entire Sewanee defense for an 81-yard touchdown. Senior placekicker Tim Branneky (St. Louis, Mo. / Lutheran High School North) added the extra point and the Jays led 7-0.  Sewanee would waste no time responding putting together a five play 71-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown.  As Sewanee lined up to kick the extra point a bad snap resulted in a fumble that was scooped up by the Blue Jays senior defensive back Robert Anthony (Herrin, IL / Herrin) who returned it 98 yards for a two-point conversion and the Blue Jays would lead 9-6. 

Westminster would take advantage of its last possession of the first half by going 80 yards in just four plays.  Freshman wide receiver Elijah Teal (Memphis, TN / Whitehaven) broke off a 65-yard run on the first play of the drive. Three plays later senior quarterback Wyatt Ellis (Owensville, Mo. / Owensville) would find junior wide receiver Trey King (Fort Worth, TX / Richland) for an 11-yard touchdown pass.  The Branneky PAT would see the Blue Jays lead 16-6.  Sewanee would manage to drive into Blue Jay territory setting up for a 43-yard field goal to make the score 16-9 at the half.

The Blue Jays would start the second half the same way they ended the first on a 7 play 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a seven-yard Ellis touchdown run to give the Jays a 23-9 lead.  After a Sewanee fumble was recovered by junior defensive lineman Justin Scales (St. Louis, Mo. / Trinity Catholic) Westminster was back in business with a short field.  A third down and 13-yard pass play from Ellis to freshman wide receiver Jaben Shockey (Camdenton, MO / Camdenton) covered 12 yards and brought about a 4th and 1 from the 4-yard line.  The Blue Jays would go for it and QB1 Ellis would keep the ball for a two-yard gain and a first down. The next play Dobbins would plunge into the endzone for a two-yard touchdown run, his second of the day, and stake the Jays to what looked like an insurmountable 30-9 lead with 4 minutes left in the third quarter.  That's just where the game would start to get interesting.

Sewanee would start a drive with 1:54 to play in the third quarter.  The seven play 78-yard drive would end with a 41-yard touchdown pass and subsequent PAT to start the fourth quarter to cut the Westminster lead to 30-16.  The Blue Jays would then drive 62 yards to the Sewanee 13-yard line behind a 21-yard run by Dobbins and a 34-yard run by Ellis.  A rush for no gain and two incomplete passes brought up a fourth and ten.  Branneky would come on to attempt a 30-yard field goal but his attempt was blocked and Sewanee recovered the block in the endzone for a touchback and they would take over at the 20-yard line with 11:59 to play.

Sewanee would march 80 yards in eight plays that would only take 1:53 off the clock before a 25-yard touchdown pass would shrink the Westminster lead to 30-23 with still ten minutes to play.  A Westminster fumble that was recovered by Sewanee 50 seconds later gave the Tigers a chance to tie the game.  The Tiger drive took four plays and covered 48 yards when Sewanee scored on a 30-yard touchdown run all that stood between Sewanee and an improbable tie game was an extra point attempt.  The snap was mishandled and the Sewanee runner fumbled and it was recovered by senior defensive back Easton Hanks to preserve a one-point lead at 30-29 for the Blue Jays but there was still eight minutes left in the game. 

Sewanee forced a Blue Jay punt on their next possession and took over with 4:45 left to play looking to take the lead.  The Blue Jay defense stood tall and backed them up in their end before forcing a punt with 2:59 left to play.  A couple first downs and the game would be Westminster's.  The Sewanee defense again forced the Jays to punt.   That's when disaster struck.  The Tigers would bring the house and get a hand on the Branneky punt.  It covered just 12 yards and gave the Tigers the ball on the 24-yard line with 1:19 to play and the outcome was very much in doubt for the Blue Jays.  The defense would stifle the Tigers thanks in part to a offensive holding penalty that backed them up to the 31 yard line.  With 13 seconds left to play Sewanee sent the field goal unit in to try and finish the comeback with a 38-yard field goal.  The kick sailed wide left and Westminster took over going into victory formation to escape with a 30-29 road victory. It was the firs win over the Tigers for the Blue Jays in three attempts.

Wyatt Ellis led the Blue Jay offense going 11-19 for 107 yards with one touchdown and no interception. He also gained 85 yards on the ground with one rushing touchdown.  Dobbins had himself a career day running the ball 22 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns.  Trey King led the team in receiving with two catches for 61 yards and one touchdown catch.  Freshman defensive lineman Brayden Isgriggs (Cadet, MO / Patosi) led the team with tackles for a loss with a sack for -9 yards and two hits behind the line of scrimmage for -14 yards.  Dawson Brandt (Eldon, MO / Eldon) and senior linebacker Cooper Mange (Ashland, Mo. / Southern Boone) led Westminster with seven tackles each.  The Blue Jays outgained the Tigers 430 yards to 381 yards for the Tigers.

Veteran head coach John Welty had this to say, "It was a great win for the Blue Jays. There is lots of hard work ahead of us this week.  We will get better."

The Blue Jays will return to Fulton, MO for their home opener next weekend on Saturday September 25th when the Blue Jays will welcome Rhodes College (1-1) to town for a 1:00 pm kickoff.