Story and photo courtesy of East Stroudsburg Athletics
EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. – Senior tailbacks Eric Deery (167 yards) and Kendrick Williams (151 yards) were the first teammates to rush for 150 yards in the same game in East Stroudsburg University history, and head coach Denny Douds became the 15th college football coach and first at the Division II level to coach 400 career games in the Warriors' 59-27 win over Cheyney on Saturday afternoon at Eiler-Martin Stadium.
Douds moved into sole possession of fifth on the Division II wins list with 234 and ESU became the fourth football program in the PSAC to record 450 wins. Douds joins Eddie Robinson (Grambling), Joe Paterno (Penn State), Roy Kidd (Eastern Kentucky) and Tubby Raymond (Delaware) as the only coaches with 400+ games to spend their entire career at one school.
The Warriors rolled up 582 yards on 54 plays and scored on a 94-yard kick return (R-Fr. WR Brandon Mercer), a 54-yard interception return (Jr. OLB Darius Jackson), a defensive two-point conversion (Jackson) and a safety. ESU scored defensive and special teams touchdowns in the same game for the first time since a 28-0 win over Cheyney in 1991.
ESU ran for 334 yards on 36 carries, its highest total since gaining 337 yards at Cheyney in 2007, and Deery and Williams both had career-highs. Deery had 19 carries for 167 yards and a touchdown for his fourth career 100-yard game and went over the 1,000-yard mark for his career. Williams had 11 carries for 151 yards and two TD's, recorded his sixth 100-yard game and moved into eighth in school history in career rushing yards (1,849). His 13.7 yards per carry are second-best in school history.
The Warriors had two 100-yard rushers for the sixth time under Douds and first time since Derek Lucas (218) and Jimmy Terwilliger (115) against Southern Connecticut in the 2005 NCAA Playoffs.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Soltes entered in the second quarter and went 7-for-10 for 171 yards and a touchdown, a 49-yarder to redshirt junior fullback Thomas Tippett. Soltes and his father, Andy, join Mike and Jimmy Terwilliger and Brian and Matt Marshall as father-son duos to throw TD passes for the Warriors in Douds' 39 years as head coach.
Of the game's 11 touchdowns, nine covered 20 or more yards – including six of more than 40 yards. There were five TD passes, three runs, a kick return, blocked punt return, interception return, safety, defensive two-point conversion and two field goals among the 15 combined scoring plays.
Cheyney (1-3, 0-2 PSAC East) led 13-12 after the first snap of the second quarter, but ESU (2-1, 1-1) put up a 28-point quarter to seize control.
The Wolves struck first on a 38-yard blocked punt return by Thomas Stewart, but Mercer got it right back on the ensuing kickoff. ESU's freshman record holder in the 60m and 100m dashes found a seam and went 94 yards for the Warriors' first kick return touchdown since 2002, and finished with 163 all-purpose yards on the afternoon.
A 41-yard field goal by junior Taylor Groff gave ESU a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter, but Cheyney got a 21-yard TD pass from Blaze Wasserleben to Khalif Dandy on the first play of the second quarter after an ESU turnover. The score gave Cheyney a 13-10 lead, but the Warriors' redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Bryan Thomson blocked the extra point and Jackson returned it the length of the field for ESU's second defensive two-point play vs. Cheyney in as many seasons.
Soltes put ESU in front with his 49-yard TD pass to Tippett after completing his first pass of the day for 23 yards to junior wide receiver Dusty Reed on his first pass of the day.
Jackson picked off Wasserleben and took it 54 yards for the score on Cheyney's next offensive series, and after the Warriors got the ball back on an interception by freshman cornerback Teron Dobbs, Williams scored from three yards out to make it 33-13 with 4:10 left.
The Warriors' defense scored again just over a minute later. A false start and sack by redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Josh Przywara backed Cheyney up to its 13-yard line, and the next snap went over the head of Cheyney backup QB Leroy Stanford for a safety.
Cheyney made it 35-20 on a 23-yard TD pass from Wasserleben to Nahum Purdie with 39 seconds left in the first half. The Warriors were on the move when a 25-yard pass from Soltes to redshirt senior wide receiver Jordan Hallman ended with Cheyney's Shannon Burch returning a fumble 63 yards deep into ESU territory.
Groff nailed a 39-yard field goal to close the first half after Soltes hit a 22-yard pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Robert Bleiler and scrambled for a 26-yard gain to move the Warriors into field goal range.
After a 38-20 opening half, the second 30 minutes were relatively calm – but still featured three scoring plays of more than 50 yards.
Williams ripped off a 54-yard touchdown run on ESU's first play of the third quarter, and nearly had another 50-yard TD run two possessions later but was stripped of the ball at the goal line.
A Cheyney fumble and ESU punt resulted in the Wolves pinned at their eight-yard line, but Wasserleben hit a streaking Justin Watkins for a 92-yard touchdown to make the score 45-27 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter.
The Warriors drove 66 yards on nine plays – their longest sustained drive of the game – with Deery racking up 62 yards on seven carries, capped by a two-yard TD run on the second play of the fourth quarter.
ESU finished the scoring on a 63-yard pass from redshirt junior quarterback Nate Daniels to Hallman with 11:20 left. Daniels made his fourth career start and was 4-for-8 for 77 yards on the afternoon.
Deery went over the 100-yard mark on ESU's second-to-last possession, ripping off a 48-yard gain on the first snap. He ran for 71 yards on seven carries on the drive, which stalled on downs inside the Cheyney 10-yard line.
The Warriors limited Cheyney to 256 total yards, 190 passing and 66 rushing on 43 attempts. Cheyney fumbled eight times, losing two, and the Warriors had two interceptions. ESU lost three fumbles and neither Daniels or Soltes threw an interception.
ESU extended its NCAA all-division record of consecutive wins in an uninterrupted series to 33, improving to 56-1 all-time against Cheyney.
The Warriors hit the road for the first time this season next weekend, traveling to Clarion for a 6 p.m. kickoff.