Saturday, September 3, 2016

Wilkes Football - Late Rally Falls Short in Opening Season Loss to Muhlenberg

Photo Courtesy of Wilkes Athletics
EDWARDSVILLE – Down by nineteen at the half, host Wilkes University stormed back scoring three touchdowns over the final two frames only to fall short in the full comeback attempt in a 29-22 loss to Muhlenberg College Friday night in both teams’ season opener.

Defense prevailed over the game’s first fourteen minutes as neither team could muster much offense. After the Mules missed on a 32-yard field goal attempt, the Colonel offense began its march down the field using a 13-play, 69-yard drive to move into Muhlenberg territory. The drive stalled at the Mules 11 yard line before Mike Hauck made good on his first field goal attempt as a Colonel from 28 yards out giving Wilkes a 3-0 lead after one quarter of play.

Muhlenberg dominated the second quarter scoring 22 of its 29 points in the frame including a pair of five yard touchdown passes from Nick Palladino to Ryan Delaney. Muhlenberg led 22-3 at the break following the three scores.

The second half belonged to the Colonels as Wilkes began its comeback attempt midway through the third quarter. Another long drive, this time a 14-play, 75-yard possession, capped off by a William Deemer eight yard touchdown catch from Ryan Dailey, cut the lead to 22-10 with 8:45 left in the third.

After Muhlenberg scored its final touchdown of the game to push the advantage back to nineteen at 29-10, Wilkes responded with its second touchdown of the night using the ground game to find the end zone. Jacob Brook did most of the damage during the drive from the ground, including diving in from one yard out to put the Colonels within thirteen at 29-16 after the two-point conversion failed.

The Wilkes defense came up big again to start the fourth quarter this time causing the lone Muhlenberg turnover in the game as Marcellus Hayes picked off Palladino to end a promising Muhlenberg drive deep in Wilkes territory. The offense wasted little time turning the miscue into points as Dailey hit Deemer for a thirty yard gain through the air before Aaron Coyne leaped up to grab his first touchdown of the season off a fine pass from Dailey from 34 yards out. The extra point was blocked by the Mules as Wilkes trailed 29-22 with 7:41 left in the game.

The teams traded punts over the next two possessions before another Muhlenberg punt landed inside the Wilkes ten starting a last chance drive at the Colonel five yard line. After a five yard rush from Dailey and a short completion to Deemer, the Wilkes offense stalled and two incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs and ended the hopes of a full comeback as Muhlenberg ran out the clock on its final possession of the contest.

Dailey was solid throughout the game finishing with 306 yards on 27-of-42 passing and two touchdowns. Deemer led a host of Wilkes receivers with seven receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown while Coyne followed with four catches for 65 yards and one score.

Isaiah Robinson led the Wilkes defense with 12 tackles while Tanner Stengel and Ondre Roberts each added ten stops.

Palladino finished with 284 yards on 26-of-36 passing and three scores. Nick Lamb led the Mules receivers with 127 yards on seven receptions. Delaney followed with 11 catches for 89 yards and two scores.

Wilkes opens MAC play next Saturday when the Colonels travel to Annville, Pa. for a 1:00 p.m. matchup with Lebanon Valley College.

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