Jackets carry momentum into matchup against Bearcats

Waynesburg football ended their 11 game losing streak after they defeated the Thiel Tomcats 34-7 thanks to four rushing touch downs by the offense last week. The Jackets didn’t run their first offensive possession until two Tomcats possessions thanks to an 84-yard punt return by freshman JaWuan Jones.

Sophomore running back Chad Walker led the Jackets in rushing with 104-yards on 16 carries and one touchdown and he was one of three runners with over 80 yards. The other two were junior running back Austin Wilson, who had 84 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns and the surprise starting quarterback, junior Jake Dougherty, who hadn’t started a game since last year before he broke his collarbone. Dougherty ran for 82 yards on 21 carries for one touchdown.

Even before the game, Smithley had tabbed Tyler Perone as the starter for most of the week, but right before the game he decided that Dougherty would be the guy for the day. The quarterback only threw five passes and completed two for three yards and an interception, but managing the run game is what kept him and the offense effective throughout the day.

The longest pass of the day belonged to Thiel’s sophomore quarterback, Ronald Brown, who completed a 72-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Marcus Waddy.

Brown finished the game 4-8 for 95 yards one touchdown and what was the game ending interception by Waynesburg late in the fourth quarter to seal the game.

This was Waynesburg’s first win of the season and ended an 11-game losing streak that dated back to last year. The win was also interim head coach Chris Smithley’s first career win.

The Jackets opponent for this Saturday is Saint Vincent Bearcats, who last week were defeated by Washington & Jefferson 21-3.

Saint Vincent allowed 177 yards on the ground on 53 carries, but Saint Vincent’s running game wasn’t any better as they averaged 2.1 yards per carry with 60 yards on 29 carries.

Freshman quarterback Aaron Austin, who started the last two games for Saint Vincent, was 14-25 for 69 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Austin lost 33 yards rushing on the afternoon, including a key 16-yard sack on fourth down in the middle of the second quarter when Saint Vincent was on the W&J 18. After that, Saint Vincent was never inside the 20 again.


Quarterback splits

It was a surprise start for Dougherty this past Saturday, but Smithley initially wanted to split series between Dougherty and Perone.

“The game plan going into Thiel was to use both of them – two series for Tyler, two for Jake, maybe to change it up a little bit,” said Smithley.

But the starter for this upcoming Saturday is not a guarantee, it comes down to who will earn it in practice and impress the man in charge.

“I think [both] those guys do a lot of great things,” said Smithley. “Really right now, it’s who’s going to grab it by the horns and just take it. I think both guys are capable of doing that.”

Along with the passing game having a mix up, the run-game was a huge focus with Chad Walker having the best game of his career on 16 carries. He will continued to share runs with Wilson and it should be expected to see another man thrown into the backfield.

“We’ll do something similar,” said Smithley. “Hayden Belcher is a guy you’ve seen play a little fullback for us. He’s a guy, we’re probably going to increase his role a little bit but we’ll mix that similar in what we need to get done.”


Riding momentum

The Jackets won their first game and are riding their first win since last year at home when they beat Grove City 10-9 last year at homecoming. Their first win in 390 days was met with applause by Smithley, but his focused has shifted to Saint Vincent.

“I don’t think there is any doubt we are going to enjoy the win, but now it’s over now it’s Saint Vincent week,” Smithley said.

Smithley is under the impression that the recent success dates back to his team having great practices and riding those practices into the game this Saturday.

“There is no doubt it goes back to last week in practice and how we practiced and the win reflected how we practiced,” said Smithley. “That momentum going into how we practice and then we have another good week of practice and we keep building off that thing.”


Matchup advantages

Saint Vincent might not have a great record, but after a loss to W&J and starting a freshman quarterback, they are not to be taken lightly.

“They are athletic on both sides of the ball. They’re a way faster football team than Thiel was. They’re going to be able to run a lot faster on defense,” Smithley said.

There are some spots on the field where the Jackets are going to have some match up advantages if the team can get to the game healthy and intact.

“Offensively is where I think we match up good if we stay healthy, but if we start getting banged up a little bit I think our matches up tougher to deal with,” said Smithley.

When it comes down to it, the team has to show up and play great to get the win, according to Smithley.

“But all in in all we got to come out and play football and do what we did this week and play relentless,” he said.