FULTON, Mo. – The Westminster football team came back from a 30-17 deficit to defeat MacMurray 33-30 on Saturday. The Blue Jays improve to 2-4 on the season and 2-2 in UMAC play.
"It was an exciting game. The boys played hard today and they played a complete football game. All three phases, offense, defense, and special teams clicked today." said Westminster Head Coach John Welty. "The boys really earned this win today and all their hard work in practice paid off."
The Highlanders opened the game with an eight-play 91-yard touchdown drive. After the kickoff, Westminster marched down the field and Brad Hammel kicked a field goal to put the Blue Jays on the board. Westminster quarterback Wyatt Ellis completed five-of-six passes for 61 yards on the drive including a 27 yard hookup with Brandon Carbray.
MacMurray added a short field goal early in the second quarter to go up 10-7. A Jamal Martin 22 yard kick return gave Westminster good field position and the Blue Jays continued to move the ball well behind the rushing attack of Ellis and DeQuintin Smith. On third-and-goal, Ellis scored on a sneak and Hammel converted the extra point to tie the game at 10-10. The Highlanders answered with a touchdown of their own but Ben Heimann blocked the extra point to make the score 16-10. The Blue Jays attempted a long field goal into the wind at the end of the half but the kick from Tim Branneky fell just short of the goalposts.
Westminster received the kickoff and the running game picked up right where it left off. Strong running from Kalyn Davis and Ellis brought the Blue Jays close to the redzone and Ellis scrambled for a 26-yard touchdown to tie the game. Hammel hit the extra point to put Westminster ahead 17-16.
MacMurray went back on top thanks to a nine-play 41-yard drive to take a 22-17 lead. The Highlanders extended their lead to 30-17 on a passing touchdown after capitalizing on a Westminster fumble on the kickoff. Momentum swung right back in the Blue Jays favor when Charles King returned the kickoff 57 yards to the MacMurray 31 yard line. Ellis then completed a 14-yard pass to Travion Mosby and a pair of five-yard rushes by Smith gave the Blue Jays a first-and-goal. Ellis then connected with Cornell Young in the back of the endzone to cut the lead to 30-24.
The Blue Jays opened the fourth quarter with a long drive capped off by a 39-yard field goal by Hammel to cut MacMurray's lead to 30-27. On the next drive, the Westminster defense buckled down and forced a fourth-and-three near midfield. Justin Scales sacked the Highlander's quarterback to give Westminster a turnover on downs and the ball in MacMurray territory. Smith ran for first downs on back-to-back plays to move the ball deeper into Highlander territory. With just over two minutes remaining on the clock, Ellis rushed into the endzone to give the Blue Jays a 33-30 lead. The Highlands blocked Hammel's extra point attempt to stay within a field goal.
Branneky booted the ball into the endzone for a touchback to give MacMurray the ball at their own 25. On third down and three with the clock winding down, Scales came up with another clutch sack to force a Highlander timeout. On fourth down, Bryce McKinnon intercepted the MacMurray quarterback to seal the victory for the Blue Jays.
Ellis threw for 157 yards and a touchdown and added 114 yard and three touchdowns on the ground. Smith totaled 82 yards on 16 carries. Matt Huffman and Alec Fleetwood each had five receptions to lead Westminster.
The Blue Jays will remain at home to play Martin Luther on Saturday, Oct. 19.