Wolverines hold off rival Rowan 24-17 for key NJAC victory

GLASSBORO, N.J. — Just a month ago, the Wesley College football looked like it might not be going anywhere this season.

And, to be sure, the Wolverines still have a lot of work to do.

But now, at least, Wesley controls its own destiny after knocking off No. 21 Rowan, 24-17, on Saturday afternoon in a New Jersey Athletic Conference showdown.

With the victory, as well as Christopher Newport’s 17-6 loss to Frostburg State on Saturday, the Wolverines (5-1 NJAC, 5-2 overall) are now in a three-way tie for the league lead with Frostburg State and Salisbury. But Wesley already beat Frostburg and still has to play Salisbury in two weeks.

On Saturday, the Wolverines looked they might might bury Rowan (4-2, 5-2) early on when they stormed out to a 24-3 halftime lead. Wesley, though, hung on in the end to win their fourth game in a row.

The Profs closed with 24-17 with 10:08 remaining.

With time winding down, the Wolverine defense came away with one more big play, stripping the Rowan quarterback for a fumble and taking over in Rowan territory. But, just as it looked that Wesley would make it a two-possession game with under four minute to go, the Profs blocked a Wolverine field goal attempt and returned it to near midfield.

The Wolverine defense came up with one more big stop, though, preventing the Profs from going very far before stopping them on downs. Wesley knelt out the remaining clock to preserve the lead and the victory.

After losing their first seven meetings with Rowan, the Wolverines have now won three in a row in the series.

Quarterback Dan Kesack went 15-for-32 for 268 yards and a touchdown while also running for a TD. Jamar Baynard rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown while Alex Kemp (Caesar Rodney) hauled in four passes for 118 yards including a 62-yard touchdown reception.

On defense, linebacker Ben Robinson made 12 tackles, including nine solo, recording 3.5 tackles for loss and an interception. Isaiah Ingram added to his team leading sack total with two more, knocking the ball loose on both sacks to force a pair of turnovers as well.

Rodney Snider added a interception for the Wolverines as they forced a season-high five turnovers.

The Wolverines used big plays on defense in the first half to set up the offense for scores.

Wesley turned a pair of strip sacks and fumble recoveries into first-half touchdowns to take an early lead. Midway through the first quarter, Ingram got to the quarterback and forced fumble.

Nmandi Njoku scooped the ball and returned it to the red zone. Two plays later, Jamar Baynard punched in a 15-yard rushing touchdown, putting Wesley ahead 7-0.

After a Rowan field goal, the Wolverines came away with another forced turnover. This time it was linebacker Samer Manna who got into the backfield to disrupt the play and fall on the loose ball to give Wesley good field position.

Kesack connected with Kemp on a 48-yard pass and then ran a seven-yard draw, hurdling a defender on his way to a rushing score to put Wesley ahead 14-3.

The Wolverines forced a Rowan three-and-out on the next drive and quickly found the end zone once again. Kesack connected with Kemp for another long pass play, this time for 62 yards and a score.

An Ereic Speidel extra point made it 21-3 with six minutes remaining in the half. Speidel added a 21-yard field goal with six seconds left in the half to give the Wolverines a 24-3 lead at the break.

The tables turned in the second half as the Rowan defense held the Wolverines scoreless throughout. The Profs mounted a pair of scoring drives, wearing down the Wesley defense for 14 consecutive second-half points to draw within a touchdown.

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