Story and photo courtesy of Wesley Athletics
– Behind the shoulders of Shane McSweeny, the seventh-ranked Wesley College football team defeated No. 3 Mary Hardin-Baylor, 27-24, Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Division III Quarterfinals at the Crusaders' Tiger Field. The Wolverines will travel to Mount Union (13-0) on Saturday, December 10 for the NCAA Semifinals where the winner will play in the Stagg Bowl.
A senior from Bensalem, Pa., McSweeny threw for 253 yards on 15-22 passing and four scores. He also ran for a game-high 114 yards on 25 carries. A frequent target of McSweeny's was Matt Barile who hauled in five passes for 136 yards and a score.
Wesley received the ball to open the game, and after the opening kickoff went for a touchback, the Wolverines embarked on a 17-play drive that consumed over nine minutes of clock. A 16-yard pass from McSweeny to Barile on third-and-eight got the drive going and culminated with McSweeny finding Sean McAndrew in the endzone on a 15-yard throw.
The teams would go scoreless the remainder of the first quarter before a 43-yard field goal by the Crusaders cut the Wolverines lead to 7-3 with 9:27 left in the second.
McSweeny then led Wesley to touchdowns on its next two drives, first connecting with Askia Jahad on a four-yard pass and then with Steven Koudossou on a 78-yard pattern. Before finding Jahad for the score, McSweeny and Barile found each other for 42 and 12 yards on back-to-back plays.
UMHB got possession back late in the second quarter and drove down the field before Mike Asiedu picked off his first of two passes on the day. The interception was one of three recorded by the Wolverines who went into the half up 21-3.
Both teams did not see the endzone in the third quarter but Wesley picked off Bailey on the Crusaders' first two drives in the second half. A ball first found the hands of freshman linebacker Sostene Kapepula for the first turnover to stop a driving Purple & Gold attack before Asiedu once again picked off LiDarral Bailey on the next Crusader possession.
Mary Hardin-Baylor would not go down without a fight as they scored quick in the fourth quarter but Wesley answered right back with a 22-yard run by McSweeny and a 56-yard touchdown strike to Barile to give the Wolverines a 27-10 advantage with 13:06 left in the fourth quarter.
A blocked extra point kept the score at 27-10 and UMHB found the endzone on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to 27-24 with just under six minutes remaining.
The Wolverines ate up nearly three minutes off the clock before turning the ball over on downs just past midfield but Kapepula broke up another Bailey pass on fourth-and-three at Wesley's 41-yard line to seal the victory for the Navy Blue & White.
Kapepula was one of four Wolverines with a least 10 tackles as he and Jeff Morgan had 14 apiece. Kirk Brooks also was credited with 12 while Paul Gilstrop added ten.