Wolverines pull away for 28-7 win over Southern Virginia

Corterris Simpson’s 80-yard punt return TD gave Wesley some much-needed breathing room in the fourth quarter. Wesley sports information file photo

BUENA VISTA, Va. — A week ago, Corterris Simpson did just about everything returning punts except reach the end zone.
The Wesley College junior changed that on Saturday.

Simpson scored on an 80-yard punt return with 10:44 remaining as the No. 7 Wolverines finally put away stubborn Southern Virginia, 28-7, in New Jersey Athletic Conference football on Saturday afternoon.

Corterris Simpson

The Wolverines (3-0 NJAC, 4-0 overall) are 8-0 all-time against the Knights (1-3 NJAC, 1-3 overall), who are slated to leave the conference after the season.

On Saturday, however, Southern Virginia jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a TD in the first five minutes of the contest. It marked the first time Wesley trailed since its season opener against Delaware Valley.

The Wolverines eventually pulled away but gradually. They scored only one touchdown in each quarter.

So Simpson’s touchdown gave Wesley some much-needed breathing room in the fourth quarter.

“He’s been a major force on special teams,” said coach Chip Knapp. “It was (just) a matter of time before he was going to break one. We had some good blocking but he’s making plays down the field, too.

“They’re doing their job,” Knapp said about the punt return unit. “And they’re taking pride in their assignment. When you have a great player like Corterris Simpson, he’s going to make plays.

“It felt good,” said Simpson. “It starts in practice and everybody making the right blocks. Every day at practice we do special teams. We put a lot of work into it.”

Simpson finished with 169 yards on just four punt returns. In the past two games, he has totalled 298 yards on eight returns.

The Wolverines outgained the Knights only 394 yards to 354. They also turned the ball over three times and missed a pair of field goals.

With Southern Virginia using a ball-control offense, the Knights held a decisive 39:17-20:33 in time of possession.

Ruhann Peele

Wesley senior quarterback Khaaliq Burroughs completed 20-of-31 passes for 286 yards with two touchdowns but also threw two interceptions. Burroughs threw a 56-yard scoring pass to receiver Ruhann Peele to tie the game late in the first quarter.

Peele, a Rutgers transfer who finished with 105 yards on six catches, looked like he was going to be stopped around the Southern Virginia 30. But he rolled across a defender and ran the rest of the way to the end zone.

“We’ve been waiting for Ruhann to break out and he got to today — especially early in the game,” said Knapp. “He’s a great athlete. He’s got a lot of confidence in himself. He’s tough and he’s real physical. So when he gets a chance to use those talents, you’re going to see him make big plays like that.”

In the second quarter, Burroughs found Alex Kemp for a 27-yard scoring pass to give the Wolverines the lead for good at 14-7. Kemp (Caesar Rodney), who now has six TD receptions this year, had five catches for 67 yards in the contest.

An eight-yard scoring run by tailback E.J. Lee in the third quarter gave the Wolverines their 21-7 lead. Lee was limited to 23 net yards on 12 carries but had 79 yards on five receptions.

Defensisvely, linebacker Nazir Williams had his first big game as a Wesley player. The Connecticut transfer collected a team-high 12 tackles, forced a fumble and broke up two passes.

Defensive backs Daquay Harris-Winbush and Corray Williams combined for 19 tackles while linebacker Najee Wilson had an interception.

Southern Virginia’s early touchdown marked the first points Wesley’s defense has surrendered in the last three games.

“I tell you what, they’re pursuing to the ball, they’re using their athletic ability,” said Knapp. “If there is a mistake, they’re covering it up pretty good with their speed and their effort.

“They’re being real disciplined in the deep zones to keep the big play from happening. So teams have to drive the ball and get first downs and it’s hard to keep a drive going.”

Extra points

Wesley had a couple starters leave the game with injuries, including defensive tackle Nick Glover (Dover) with a knee injury and safety Cappadonna Miller with an ankle injury. … Marcellus Pack (Dover) had 89 yards on a pair of kickoff returns. … Akiva Wedge, who played at Wesley as a freshman, ran for a game-high 76 yards and a TD on 23 carries for the Knights. … Elijah Minter led the Wolverines wiwth 47 yards on six carries. … Wesley hosts No. 6 Frostburg State next Saturday at 1 p.m.

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