DOVER, Del. – Wesley College's 14th-ranked football team advanced to its fifth consecutive national quarterfinal, defeating No. 24 Ithaca 23-15 on Saturday afternoon at Scott D. Miller Stadium. The Wolverines (10-2) have now won 10 games in each of five consecutive seasons. Meanwhile, the Bombers' season ends at 9-3.
Jamar Baynard carried the ball a career-high 20 times for 103 yards as Wesley accumulated 181 yards on the ground compared to -50 (sacks included) for Ithaca. This was the second time this season that Baynard, a freshman from Townsend, Del., went past 100 yards. Jeremiah Howe also rushed for 41 yards on nine attempts.
Joe Callahan was efficient in the passing game, completing 14-of-25 times for 100 yards while also running for 17 yards, including a pivotal 19-yard scamper on a third down in the second quarter. Howe also led the team with five catches for 64 yards and now ranks eighth in Wesley history with 121 career catches, tying Fran Naselli ('92). Steve Koudossou also hauled in three catches for 56 yards and move into fourth place on the Wolverines career receiving yards list (2,235).
Callahan's quarterback sneak from a yard out midway through the first quarter put the Wolverines on top 6-0, but the lead was short-lived as Ithaca's Sam Carney ran back the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. After missing the extra point earlier in the game, Jon Storck redeemed himself on Wesley's next drive with a 35-yard field goal, putting the Wolverines back on top, 9-6, with 3:55 left in the first quarter.
The Wolverines defense, who recorded seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss on the day, then forced a Bombers punt and took over inside their own 20, but Callahan led Wesley on a quick scoring drive to extend the lead to 16-7 just three minutes into the second quarter. Callahan hit tight end Kyle George down the seam for 15 yards, and Baynard registered 20 yards on his next two carries to get the ball to midfield.
Howe then caught a bomb from Callahan for 42 yards, putting the Wolverines at the Ithaca five-yard line. Baynard then ran for his first of two touchdowns on the day right up the gut.
Wesley went into the half with the nine-point lead and the offense came out of the intermission fast with a 15-play, 82-yard drive that lasted more than eight minutes. The possession culminated with two-yard touchdown run by Baynard who accounted for 41 yards on the drive. Accounting for the other 41 yards on the possession was Howe.
Ithaca was able to cut the deficit to a single score with a touchdown pass from Tom Dempsey to Vito Boffoli with 2:44 left in the game, but the onside kick was unsuccessful. Baynard then received the call on the first two plays for Wesley and ran two times for six and 15 yards to seal the victory for the Wolverines.
Defensively, Luke Maginnis recorded a team-high 10 tackles for Wesley while Sosthene Kapepula tallied nine stops with a sack and two pass breakups. Aamir Petrose finished with six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack while freshman Zane Campbell recorded his team-leading sixth interception of the season. Eight different players were credited with at least half a sack.