Galesburg, IL 9/3/2022- The Westminster College football team traveled to Galesburg, Illinois to open the season against the Knox College Prairie Fire. The Blue Jays come into the season with a lot of fresh faces, adding twenty-three new players to the roster and a whole new coaching staff except for the head coach John Welty, who enters his twenty-fourth season at the helm.
The Blue Jays did not get off to the ideal season by getting shut out and losing 26-0. However, there were some good things to build upon, especially on the defensive end. The Blue Jays stood tall on three straight drives by Knox, who got the ball inside the red zone on all three drives. The defense held them to only three points to start the game. They forced a fumble on the opening drive after the Prairie Fire returned the opening kickoff all the way to the Blue Jay two-yard line. On the second drive, they forced a missed field goal attempt. Then finally gave up the field goal on the third drive after a muffed punt gave Knox the ball at the Westminster twenty-four-yard line. The Blue Jays won the turnover battle four to three, forcing three fumbles and an interception.
Knox would score the first touchdown of the game with one minute left in the first quarter on a twenty-six-yard touchdown pass to give them a 9-0 lead. Neither team would score in the second quarter and go into halftime with the score 9-0 and the Blue Jays would get the ball to start the second half.
Westminster could go three and out on the opening drive of the second half and had to punt the ball back to Knox. The Blue Jays got the Prairie Fire in a fourth and four and they choose to go for it. The call paid off as they ripped off a twenty-eight-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper. They would go up 16-0.
The Blue Jays would have another three and out on the next drive. After getting the ball back, Knox wasted little time finding the end zone again as they scored on a one-play forty-eight-yard touchdown run to take a commanding 23-0 lead.
Getting the ball at the Knox twenty-five-yard line, junior running back Jordan Kern (St. Louis, MO / Parkway North) gave the Blue Jays some life by exploding for a forty-eight-yard run. This was the longest play for the Blue Jay offense in the game. Unfortunately, the Jays could not capitalize on the big play and were forced to after getting the ball up to the Knox forty-one-yard line.
Knox would kick a field goal with 10:25 left in the game and win 26-0.
Kern would lead the Blue Jay offense with 67 yards on 10 carries. He was followed by freshman running back Cole Yancey (Davenport, OK / Davenport) who gained 16 yards on 6 carries. Freshman quarterback Bryce Westerfeld (St.Charles, MO / Orchard Farm) would go 5-12 for 31 yards and an interception in his first collegiate start. Wide-out Peyton James (Springfield, Mo. / Springfield Catholic) had one catch for twelve yards.
Dawson Brandt (Eldon, Mo. / Eldon) and Cameron Offermann (Cedar Hill, MO / Luther South) led the defense with ten tackles each and Offerman had the interception. Rothman Harris (Farmington, MO / Farmington) and Devin Miller (Paris, Mo / Paris) got combined for a sack and a three-yard loss. Freshman linebacker Shelby Pittsenbarger (Warrensburg, MO / Warrensburg) got two fumble recoveries and sophomore defensive back Dillon Farrell (Sullivan, MO / Sullivan) scooped up the third fumble.
Brandt would also stay busy on special teams as he booted nine punts for 301 yards.
The Blue Jays will have their home opener next Saturday against Iowa Wesleyan and that game will have a 1:00 PM kick-off.