Wolverines QB Falkenberg out for year after hurting spleen in opening loss

Nick Falkenberg

DOVER — Nick Falkenberg had taken a few hits in the game.

But coach Mike Drass said he and his staff didn’t really notice anything was wrong with the Wesley College quarterback until he needed one of his teammates to tie his shoe for him.

Shortly after the Wolverines’ game at Delaware Valley was over last Thursday night, Falkenberg was on his way to the emergency room.

Late that evening, he was undergoing emergency surgery to have 70 percent of his spleen removed.

The good news is that Falkenberg is expected to make a full recovery. Indeed, he’ll even be allowed to play football again.

The bad news is that the QB’s season is over, ending with the Wolverines’ 24-19 season-opening loss to the Aggies.

Junior Khaaliq Burroughs is now the starting quarterback for Wesley, which doesn’t play again until Sept. 16.

“When you hear that type of talk, your concern goes to the health and welfare of your player,” said Drass, the Wolverines’ veteran head coach. “Internal bleeding. … heck, that’s life and death.

“I’m just grateful and thankful for our sports med and their team doctor who had the smart advice to get him to a hospital. … Coach (Chip) Knapp and I were able to drive up and see him on Sunday. He was in good spirits. His family was just happy that he was on the road to safe recovery.”

Because the injury happened early in the season, Nick Falkenberg will be eligible to redshirt and play next fall if he wants. (Delaware State News file photo)

Drass said Falkenberg was injured after being tackled on a play with 6:28 left in the second quarter. Drass it looks like one of DelVal’s defenders accidently hit Falkenberg with his knee, causing the injury.

Falkenberg fumbled on the play, with the Aggies returning the turnover 70 yards for a touchdown.

But the senior quarterback stayed in the game, only sitting out the final possession of the contest.

In his first season as full-time starter, Falkenberg completed 18-of-30 passes for 227 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran the ball 12 times.

Falkenberg was released from Abington, Pa. Trauma Center on Tuesday. Because the injury happened early in the season, he will be eligible to redshirt this year and play next fall if he wants.

“Nick being healthy is the most important thing,” said Drass.

Drass said the Wolverines have confidence in Burroughs, who joined the program last fall. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound New Jersey native played for Northern (Minn.) Junior College in 2011.

“We felt like Khaaliq had earned that (backup) role through his body of work last season, in the spring and in the fall here,” said Drass. “But the question even more is, who is the backup?”

Wesley does have eight quarterbacks on its roster. Among the group of players now in the running for the No. 2 job are junior Ben Campbell, freshman Dave Marrocco, sophomore John Mullin, Kevin Shekells and freshman Bryce Drakeford.

The Wolverines also have a pair of former QBs at receiver. Junior Alex Kemp, the former Caesar Rodney High quarterback, has taken a few snaps in his college career, while senior Dan Kesack started six games at quarterback last season.

Drass, though, said there are no plans to move either player.

It’s not the first time that Drass and the Wolverines have lost their starting QB in a season opener.

Khaaliq Burroughs

In 2010, Shane McSweeny went down with a knee injury on the second play of the year. But Justin Sottilare stepped in and led the Wolverines to a 12-2 record and a trip to the NCAA Division III semifinals.

“We’ve been in this boat before,” said Drass. “This isn’t something that is new to us. I think we’ll be fine.

“I’d rather have Nick. He’s a proven commodity. Will Khaaliq or whoever our quarterback is have some growing pains? Sure. But we learned we have a pretty good tailback (E.J. Lee) and we learned we have a pretty solid defense. We’ve got to build from there.”

A year ago, the Wolverines started out 1-2 only to win eight straight games and reach the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Drass said it’s a good week for Wesley to have an open date.

“We can catch our breath, prepare our kids,” said Drass. “Every goal we set for ourselves is still right in front of us. … We know what we’ve got to do.”

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