By: Colin Rhodes
For the Yellow Jacket
In week two of the 2021 Division III college football season, the Waynesburg University Yellow Jackets hosted the Case Western Reserve Spartans in its home opener and on the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
To remember the tragic day, a moment of silence was held before the playing of the national anthem. Fans reflected on the event and remembered those who lost their lives that day, a tribute of whom was created in the front section of the stands near the 50.
The Spartans opened the scoring off a 1-yard touchdown rush by Antonio Orsini. With the PAT, Case Western led 7-0. It would stay that way after one quarter.
Waynesburg responded in the second quarter when the Jackets were able to find the endzone on 3rd and goal from the Spartan 18 with a Tyler Raines touchdown pass to receiver Trenton Kerns. The PAT would be blocked, however, so Waynesburg trailed 7-6.
Case Western would quickly answer back on a one-play, 12-second drive: a 69-yard pass from Drew Saxton to Lucas DeCaro that went for a touchdown. This put the Spartans up 14-6.
With the ball at their own 41, Saxton and the Case Western offense would get first down after a first down. Saxton would end up finding Aiden Cain from six yards out on 1st and goal for the touchdown, extending the lead to 21-6.
Things didn’t look bleak for Waynesburg for much longer, as on their next drive the Tyler Raines and Justin Flack combo got the offense to the Case Western 2 in just four plays. On 1st and goal, Nick Hall got the ball took it into the endzone for the touchdown. The PAT kick from Keegan Raabe was good, and the score was now 21-13.
Case Western added back to their lead twice more before halftime. On 2nd and goal from the 1, Antonio Orsini got his second touchdown to put the Spartans up 28-13.
Following a Waynesburg three and out Drew Saxton would continue his big day and find Michael Wojkowski for a 24-yard touchdown, pushing the lead to 35-13 at halftime.
Case Western started the second half with another score. On 3rd and 5 from their own 41, Saxton found Wojkowski again for a touchdown pass, this time for 59 yards. The Spartans now lead 42-13.
With their first drive of the second half, Waynesburg fullback Michale McVicker punched it in for the touchdown, making the deficit shrink back to a score of 42-20.
Case Western wouldn’t be phased by this, and on a two-play drive Saxton found Colt Morgan for an 80-yard touchdown pass to increase their lead. The score was now 49-20, and Waynesburg’s chances for a win seemed slim.
The Jackets persisted as Raines found Matt Craig on 3rd and 4 for a touchdown. This got Waynesburg back to within three scores at 49-27 to end the third quarter.
The Spartans would answer yet again with a 1-yard touchdown rush from Donald Day III, increasing the lead again to 56-27.
Waynesburg was not done yet though when Tyler Raines found his favorite target all game, Dakota Romantino, for a 64-yard touchdown. The Jackets tried a fake field goal attempt on the PAT, but failed to convert, leaving the Jackets trailing 56-33.
Drew Saxton would lead one more drive on the day for the Spartans, a long and time consuming one at that. Saxton would take the offense to the Yellow Jacket 15-yard line before Alex Fromberg would break it from 16 yards out for a touchdown, the final one of the game.
With the score now 63-33, Josh Gibbons entered at quarterback for Waynesburg. Case Western likewise gave Jack McCrae playing time at quarterback. A field goal by Joseph Rhodes V. topped the 99 point contest, and when the final whistles blew, Case Western won 66-33.
It wasn’t all bad for the Yellow Jackets despite the loss. They put up 33 points on one of the top teams in the conference, and receiver Dakota Romantino had a standout day with 9 receptions for 260 yards, both good enough to be ranked second all-time in each stat for a single game in Waynesburg’s history.
“I’m blessed,” Romantino said postgame. “I think it’d be better if we got the win, but I’m happy. Thankful for my teammates and all that.”
Waynesburg head coach Chris Smithley gave praise to his receiver.
“We’ve been excited about [Dakota],” Smithley said. “We knew what he’s capable of doing. Just a process of getting him up to speed on the offense and getting him comfortable in the offense, and we’re looking forward to seeing big things out of him.”
Waynesburg will host Thiel College next week on September 18th, and with the performance from the Yellow Jackets in this game, many are excited to see what they can do against the Tomcats.