Fulton, MO, 10/30/21 – It was Homecoming Weekend for the Westminster College football team. The team was desperate for a win after a four-game losing streak. The Blue Jays responded with their best offensive output of the season in a 42-32 victory over the visiting Finlandia University Lions. The win improves the Blue Jays record to 2-4 and 1-3 in the UMAC.
The Blue Jays got going thanks to their defense. On Finlandia's second possession of the game junior cornerback Easton Hanks (Ozark, Mo. / Ozark) would intercept a tipped Lion pass attempt at the Westminster 30-yard line and returned it to the Westminster 42-yard line. 11 plays and 58 yards later Taylor Dobbins (Laurie, Mo. / Versailles) would plunge into the endzone from five yards out to give the Blue Jays a 7-0 first quarter lead. It was just a taste of what was to come.
The Blue Jay defense was on point the next two Finlandia possessions as they would hold the Lions to 16 yards on ten plays. When the Blue Jays would get the ball back with 11:26 to play in the second quarter they would go on a 10 play 55-yard drive for a touchdown. The drive featured a steady diet of Dobbins and quarterback Wyatt Ellis (Owensville, MO / Owensville) power running. The Blue Jays would only see one third down play on the drive and it culminated in Dobbins second straight five-yard touchdown run that gave the Jays a two score lead at 14-0.
The Blue Jay defense went to work again after allowing an 11-yard pass on first down the Blue Jays defense stiffened and three plays and 2 yards later they forced a Lion punt. The Blue Jays would then put together their longest drive of the game a 14 play 65-yard drive. They took over with 5:09 to play in the first half. In the middle of the drive Ellis was sacked on second down for a loss of eight yards bringing up third and 18 from the Westminster 46-yard line. Ellis would scramble and then hit freshman Jaben Shockley (Camdenton, MO / Camdenton) for a 24-yard gain and a Westminster first down! Later in the drive with the Jays facing a fourth and four from the Finlandia 17-yard line the Blue Jays were called for a false start. The Blue Jays stayed with the idea of going for it on fourth and nine from the Finlandia 22-yard line. Ellis sprinted out pumped and then kept the ball and ten yards later had a huge first down to keep the drive alive. Two plays later Dobbins would run over and through the Lions defense for his third touchdown, a seven-yard scamper that gave his team a 21-0 lead.
Finlandia would drive 80 yards in :35 to score their first touchdown of the game. It would be the beginning of an awakening for the Lions offense. Three long pass plays fueled the drive. The Lions do not have a placekicker and went for two but the two-point conversion pass failed and the Blue Jays would go to the locker room with a 21-6 lead.
The second half would begin with another drive by the Westminster offense. There was another fourth down Ellis conversion to keep the drive alive. Ellis would hook up with Shockley again, this time for a 17-yard touchdown to make it 28-6. The touchdown catch was Shockley's first collegiate touchdown. Finlandia would respond on their next possession with a 15-yard TD run but their two-point conversion pass was knocked away by the Blue Jay defense and made the score 28-12. Finlandia would get the ball back with :46 left in the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter on the same drive Finlandia would throw a 82 yard touchdown pass to their electric wideout Byron Owens. Their two-point conversion pass would fail again and the Lions would cut the lead to 28-18.
The Lions would hold the Blue Jay offense on their next possession and force a punt. The Lions had a chance to cut into the Westminster lead again. They drove to past midfield before Westminster freshman defensive lineman Trevor Hamblin (Sulivan, MO / Sulivan) would come through with the defensive play of the game. He would snatch a Finlandia pass out of the air at the line of scrimmage and he returned it three yards past midfield. Eight plays later Dobbins would take it in from a yard out for his fourth touchdown of the game. Tim Branneky (St. Louis, Mo. / Lutheran High School North) would connect for his fifth extra point of the day and the Jays would extend their lead to 35-18. Finlandia's Owens would answer when he would take the kickoff at the Finlandia eight-yard line and 92 yards later he was into the endzone to make the score 35-24.
Westminster went with the hands team on the Finlandia kickoff expecting the onside kick. Instead the Lions sent the ball deep and it was returned ten yards by Westminster's QB1 Ellis. The big play of the drive came on fourth and three from the Finlandia 39-yard line when Ellis would pick up the first down and then break free through the Lion defense for a 39-yard touchdown run. Branneky would add his sixth extra point of the day and is a perfect 20-20 on the season. The score stood at 42-24 with 4:56 left to play in the game.
With 3:18 to play the Lions would get the ball back after a 52-yard Branneky punt was downed at the six-yard line. Owens would dazzle again on a 94-yard touchdown catch and run. This time the Lions two-point conversion pass was successful and cut the Blue Jays lead to 42-32.
Westminster would get the Lion onside kick this time around and after Hanks would field the Lions kick with 3:02 to play the offense would pick up two first downs and ran out the clock for the victory.
Ellis would finish the day 6-22 for 108 yards and a touchdown while also running for 67 yards on 13 carries and the final touchdown. He was Mr. Clutch today converting on so many big plays to keep several drives alive.
Dobbins would turn in a career day running the ball. He gained a career high 241 yards on a career high 37 carries and a career high four touchdowns. Ben Wallace (Chicago, Il. / Thornton Fractional South) would chip in 49 yards on 13 carries from the speedy back.
The receiving corps was led by the freshman Shockley who caught three passes for 50 yards and his first career score. Defensive lineman Cole Amelunke (Jackson, Mo. / Jackson) led the Blue Jays defense with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss of 14 yards. Freshman linebacker Garrett Burger (California, MO / California R-1) recorded two sacks for 10 yards worth of loss. All totaled the Blue Jay defense recorded nine tackles for loss totaling 32 yards.
The Blue Jays ran an incredible 98 plays from scrimmage compared to the Lions 52. The Blue Jays outgained the Lions 488 to 394. The Blue Jays won the take away battle 2-0.
The Blue Jays will be back at home next Saturday as they will take on the Martin Luther University Knights. The game is scheduled for a 12:00 p.m. kick off.