Jacket football starts off with tough road game

Waynesburg drops opener to Muskingum

The Waynesburg University Yellow Jacket football team lost the first game of the 2021 season 49-6 to a dominant performance from the Muskingum Muskies.

The game was played at Zanesville High School where the Muskies are preparing to construct a new stadium, but progress has been slowed by COVID-19.

“It’s just another day for us, go out and play the game the way we practice,” head coach Chris Smithley said to his team before the game. “The message was to go out and play with energy and urgency.”

Muskingum started the game by forcing a three and out on Waynesburg’s first drive of the game. Freshman punter Brennan Campbell had his first career punt blocked and returned for a touchdown one minute and 13 seconds into the game. This gave the Muskies a seven to nothing lead before their offense stepped on the field. From then on it was the Jordan Garrett and Donny Wilkinson show.

Wilkinson opened the offensive scoring with a four-yard touchdown run to put Muskingum up 14-0. Six minutes later after one of two Tyler Raines’ fumbles, Wilkinson found the endzone for the second time in the first quarter.

“It’s an experience thing. We missed our scrimmage and that hurt us,” Smithley responded when asked about turnovers. “We have to minimize those issues.”

Five minutes into the second quarter, sophomore Gannon Unger hauled in a spectacular grab near the front of the endzone to give Jordan Garrett his first touchdown pass of the year. Waynesburg’s next fumble was caused by a backwards pass intended for junior running back Justin Flack. Flack couldn’t secure the ball and senior Cortez McGinnis scooped it up and took it 52 yards to the house for Muskingham. Kicker Hunter Albers’ long day continued by making his fifth extra point of the game, putting Muskingum up 35-0. The first half concluded with a 14-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Travanti Keitt. At halftime, the score was 42-0 in favor of Muskingum. Waynesburg also trailed by 42 at halftime in the first game of last season.

The second half was much better for Waynesburg. The Jackets were only outscored seven to six in the final 30 minutes. The defense recovered three fumbles. Sophomore Keegan Raabe successfully put two field goals through the uprights.

“We ran the ball better in the second half,” Smithley said. “I think we still made some decisions that weren’t the best, but obviously it was a better half for us.”

The game ended 49-6, but the Jackets turned it up a notch on both sides of the ball.

Waynesburg’s next game is Saturday, Sept. 11 at home against the 2019 Presidents’ Athletic Conference champion Case Western Reserve Spartans. Kickoff is set for 1pm at John F. Wiley Stadium.