Friday, September 2, 2016

Stevenson Football - Six Interceptions Push Mustangs Past N.C. Wesleyan in Season Opener

A file photo.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Senior Billy Lewis had three interceptions, including a pick-six, as the Stevenson defense had a program-record six interceptions en route to a 42-28 non-conference football victory over North Carolina Wesleyan College Friday night at Mustang Stadium in the season opener for both teams.

Stevenson's (1-0) six interceptions broke the previous program record of five set last season against Widener. Besides Lewis, senior Cory Pietrzyk had a pair of picks, with classmate Austin Tennessee having the other interception. The Mustangs led Division III with 29 interceptions a season ago.

With the win, Stevenson improved to 5-1 in home openers and moved to 4-0 all-time against the Battling Bishops (0-1).

Stevenson and North Carolina Wesleyan were tied 28-28 entering the fourth quarter. The Bishops had the first drive of the fourth and went three-and-out, with Stevenson taking over on its own 48. Junior Dan Williams went 5-5 passing, including a 27-yard strike to junior Preston Addo, to get Stevenson down to the NWC 3, but a fumble recovered by the guests kept it tied with 10:09 left.

Facing 3rd-and-6 at his own 11, North Carolina Wesleyan's Nathan Gardner threw a pass over the middle that was intercepted by Lewis at the 38, which he took in down the left side to give the Mustangs a 35-28 lead with 9:15 remaining.

The Battling Bishops went 3-and-out on their next possession, with Stevenson taking over at its own 40. Facing 3rd-and-22 at midfield, sophomore Jainard Crawley-Lambert ripped off a 50-yard touchdown run, tip-toeing down the left side near the goal line to make it 42-28 with 2:15 left, capping a nine-play, 60-yard drive that took over five minutes.

The second half got off to a slow start as the two teams traded turnovers on the first four possessions with North Carolina Wesleyan clinging to a 21-20 lead. Stevenson took a 28-20 lead on a three-yard TD run by Crawley-Lambert with 5:18 to go in the third, followed by a Williams pass to senior Kenneth Scott-Kelow for the two point conversion. Gardner responded with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Malik Adams on 4th-and-13 to tie the game 28-28 with 2:09 to go.

Stevenson got on the board first, with Williams delivering a five-yard pass to sophomore Everett Polzin with 5:36 left in the first quarter to give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead. The score was set up Pietrzyk's first interception of the game at the NC Wesleyan 29, which he returned to the 2. The Battling Bishops responded with an eight-play, 42-yard touchdown drive set up by a 46-yard Adams kick return to tie the game with 4:06 to go.

A 25-yard pass from Williams to Addo six seconds into the second quarter put the Mustangs on top 14-7. Stevenson extended the lead to 20-7 with 10:19 to go in the second as Addo caught his second TD pass of the game, this one nine yards from Williams.

North Carolina Wesleyan scored twice in the final 4:34 of the first half to take a 21-20 lead into halftime. Gardner completed a four-yard pass to Ben Dorfman with 4:34 on the clock to make it 20-14, then a 38-yard completion to Adams with 2:47 gave the Bishops their lone lead.

Williams finished 23-31 passing for 235 yards and three touchdowns, with junior Devin Salisbury catching six balls for 78 yards. Addo had five catches for 81 yards, while senior Tyler Cherigo hauled in four balls. Crawley-Lambert rushed 20 times for 107 yards and a pair of scores.

Defensively, Pietrzyk had 11 tackles (four solo) in addition to his two interceptions, while junior Thomas Camperand sophomore Ashton Leschke each had seven tackles. Senior Austin Meyers had five tackles, including Stevenson's lone sack. In addition to the six interceptions, the Mustangs registered five pass breakups.

Gardner finished 15-34 passing for 251 yards, with Adams catching seven balls for 132 yards and a pair of scores. Adrian Minondo rushed 18 times for 48 yards, while defensively Zach Chambers led the way with 16 tackles (nine solo).

Stevenson outgained North Carolina Wesleyan 350-321, including 115-70 on the ground. The Mustangs controlled the clock for 17:30 in the second half and 30:14 for the game and was 3-4 in the red zone.

Stevenson opens Middle Atlantic Conference play next Saturday when it travels to defending league champion Albright College for a 1:00 kickoff.

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