Wesley Notebook: Allen’s 2-point catch capped memorable finish

Xavier Allen

Xavier Allen

DOVER — It was about as easy a catch as Xavier Allen will ever have to make.

Which is, of course, what made it so hard.

All the Wesley College wide receiver had to do was pull in the two-point conversion pass and the Wolverines would have themselves a dramatic one-point victory over North Central, Ill. on Saturday.

But no defender was near Allen and quarterback Joe Callahan lobbed the football — giving Allen all the time in the world to think about catching it.

“In that situation, it seems like everything is moving in slow motion,” admitted the Dover High grad. “But I just came down with it.

“That had to be one of the best feelings that I’ve ever been a part of,” said Allen, who was quickly piled under by his teammates.

Indeed, Wesley’s remarkable 50-49 win over North Central will rank as one of the more memorable finishes the Wolverines have ever pulled off.

The fifth-ranked Wolverines (2-0 NJAC, 3-0 overall), who host Southern Virginia (0-2 NJAC, 0-3) on Saturday at 1 p.m., drove 94 yards on 11 plays in two minutes to score the winning touchdown/two-point conversion with just 7.5 seconds on the clock.

“When Xavier caught the ball, I remember turning around. … and I turned into a mosh pit of guys diving on top of each other,” coach Mike Drass said about the scene on Wesley’s sideline.

“I thought, ‘That’s cool. They’re together. Everyone is in there.’ It’s the first time I’ve seen that from our team this year.”

That clutch, game-winning drive just added another line to Callahan’s already-impressive resume. On that final march, the senior completed 6-of-7 passes for 76 yards while running twice for 16 yards.

As a sophomore, Callahan had orchestrated a similar drive in a last-second NCAA Division III playoff win at Johns Hopkins.

“You always talk about guys who have ice water in their veins,” said Drass. “I remember just looking at him and saying, ‘Hey, we can do this’ and him going, ‘Yeah.’”

“He (Callahan) is just extremely calm in those situations,” said Allen. “He doesn’t show any type of fear. With two minutes up on the clock, he took it upon himself.

“That (comeback) actually shows how much of a team we are. We stayed together. We never got down on each other. … We finished the game strong together. It was a team win.”

Defensive tackle Dan Laguerre admits he was a little surprised that Drass decided to go for two. The senior also admits he was then a little scared watching the winning play unfold.

“I think it builds our camaraderie as a team — showing that we can finish strong,” said Laguerre. “Our position coach, Coach (Tom) Smith, he says, ‘Finish.’ All week he told us that it was going to be a playoff atmosphere so we have to bring our best game.”

On the two-point conversion, Callahan — rolling to his left away from a blitz — looked like he might be able to just run the ball in. But he told Drass later that one of his calves cramped up just then.

The important part was that the defender covering Allen left him to try and stop Callahan.

All Callahan did was dump the ball over to Allen, who lunged at it to make a sprawling catch — even though he probably could have just stayed on his feet.

“You see it on film, it looked like a little jump shot — like he (Callahan) was going to bank it off the glass or something,” said Drass. “Everyone on the sideline was asking him (Allen) like, ‘What were you doing?’ He goes, ‘I just wanted to make sure I had that.’”

Wesley loses LBs to injury

Amidst the euphoria of Saturday’s victory, Wesley lost one of its top linebackers for the rest of the season.

On the ensuing kickoff that ended the contest, senior Julian Jones made a cut and blew out his knee. A three-year starter, Jones was second on the squad with 25 tackles, including a pair of sacks, with two pass breakups.

And Jones’ injury came after the Wolverines lost another linebacker, junior Derek Lauria, to a knee injury in practice. Neither player was hit when they went down.

The good news is that, because their injuries occurred in the first three games of the season, both will be able to count this as a redshirt year.
Sophomore Mike Sabino, a Lake Forest High grad, will take Jones’ starting spot.

“If there’s a silver lining, he (Jones) and Derek both get the year back,” said Drass. “We’ll be that much better next year. We’ve been down this road before. I think we lost eight starters in 2012 and still kept winning.”

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