Passing game, defense key Wesley’s 43-7 home win over Frostburg

Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — It’s not often that the Wesley College football program enters a game with a losing record. It’s even rarer that they enter a game with a question of who the quarterback will be.

But a week after a disappointing home nonconference loss in their opener, it was an explosive passing game and a solid defense that earned Wesley a 43-7 victory over Frostburg State on a hot, humid Saturday afternoon on Drass Field at Miller Stadium. With the victory, the Wolverines moved to 1-0 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.

“We really felt that the playoffs started this week for us,” said receiver Alex Kemp a week after the Wolverines had turned the ball over five times, including four interceptions, against Delaware Valley. Wesley will now likely have to win the NJAC to make certain the program’s 12th straight trip to the playoffs.

Wesley started Dan Kesack at quarterback for the first time and the junior responded with three touchdown passes in the first 18 minutes of the game, He started by completing eight of his first 10 passes to help the Wolverines score the game’s first 29 points. He finished the game 12-of-19 for 255 yards with four touchdown passes.

On the first two touchdowns of the game, Kesack was able find Kemp, a Caesar Rodney product, from 19 and 43 yards. The sophomore receiver grabbed a team-high four passes for 111 yards.

“We worked all week on defeating press-man cover,” Kemp said. “Danny was able to lay it right in there both times.”

“We have some of the best receivers in the country,” said Kesack, who also completed scoring passes of 20 yards to Cappadonna Miller and 62 yards to Dover High alum Xavier Allen. “If they’re going to give that to us on the outside, I’ll take that every day.”

While satisfied with the play of Kesack, Wesley Coach Mike Drass did not rule out the use of last week’s starter, Nick Falkenberg, going forward this season. The junior did not enter the game until about five minutes left in the game and completed his only pass for five yards.

“I thought Danny did a good job today,” Drass said. “Both of them are good. After looking at film, we thought Danny gave us the best chance to win this game. Nick is good too. I wouldn’t say we solidified anything. It was a step in the right direction, which is important.”

Meanwhile, the Wesley defense allowed just three first downs by the time the Wolverines had raced out to a 29-0 lead in the second quarter. The Bobcat quarterback missed on his first 11 passes, before Frostburg finally but together their only scoring drive just before halftime. In all, the Bobcats gained just 240 yards of total offense Saturday.

“Defensively, I thought we played hard,” Drass said. “We got really tired in the second quarter and we were struggling, trying to get some fresh legs out there. But I thought we came out in the third and fourth quarter and did a better job.”

Even with the victory, Drass sees plenty of room for improvement for his team. Wesley was penalized 12 times for 114 yards.

“We’re just happy to get the win,” Drass said. “We didn’t play as well as we believe we can play. It was hot out here. The humidity and heat was draining us.

“The penalties are a major issue for us, but they’re correctable. We have to take that seriously. We talked about it this week. We have to make these corrections or we have to replace people.”

Senior running back and Middletown product Jamar Baynard was limited to 33 yards on 11 carries. Wesley rushed for 116 yards in all, including a scoring runs by Baynard and Kesack.

“We have to do a better job up front,” Drass said. “We have to open up more space for Jamar. We have one of the best running backs in the country and we’re not doing a good enough job for him.”

EXTRA POINTS: It was Wesley’s 10th straight victory over Frostburg. The Bobcats have not beaten the Wolverines since 2003…Wesley leads the all-time series 12-9…Bryce Shade set up the Wolverines first touchdown with a 36-yard punt return. The senior had three returns for 55 yards in all while adding 41 receiving yards on two receptions…Linebacker Sammer Manna led Wesley in tackles with 12 and added a sack…Freshman punter Connor Bentz averaged 42.6 yards per boot with two inside the 20-yard line…The Wolverines recovered three fumbles, including two by defensive tackle Stephen Yorkman…Frostburg turnovers led to 10 Wesley points…Frostburg was penalized nine times for 86 yards… Wesley starting defensive end Ray Mangold was injured during pregame warmup and taken to the hospital. His status for next week is still uncertain…Wesley will travel to face Christopher Newport (currently 2-0) next Saturday. The Captains defeated Hampden-Sydney 45-27.

Jason Bowen is a Dover freelance writer.

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