Story and photo courtesy of Washington & Lee Athletics
LEXINGTON, Va. – Washington and Lee clinched its seventh winning season in the last nine years and improved to 14-0 over the last three seasons when rushing for 400 yards or better as it defeated Catholic, 41-14, in ODAC football action on Saturday afternoon at Cardinal Stadium.
The Generals (6-2, 4-1) jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their first possession of the ball game when junior quarterback Nick Lombardo (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) connected with senior slotback Brett Murray (Lookout Mountain, Tenn./Baylor) for an 84-yard touchdown pass at the 6:44 mark of the first quarter.
W&L made it a 14-0 game on its next possession when senior running back Luke Heinsohn (Charlottesville, Va./Covenant) capped an 11-play, 85-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown run. On the drive, Heinsohn became the Generals' all-time leading rusher, surpassing the record formerly held by Chris Sullivan '03.
Catholic cut the W&L lead to 14-7 just 2:52 later when quarterback Greg Cordivari hooked up with wide receiver Alonzo Cooke for a 29-yard touchdown, but the Generals responded seven plays later when senior running back Sasha Vandalov (Vienna, Va./James Madison) plunged in from 10-yards out for a 21-7 lead with 7:27 left in the half.
Following the halftime break, Vandalov scored his second touchdown of the day, ending a 17-play, 69-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run for a 28-7 lead with 6:08 left in the half. Murray added a 1-yard touchdown run with 10:29 left in the game to push the lead out to 34-7. Catholic running back Mike Pitsenberger scored on a 2-yard touchdown run and W&L first-year running back Joseph Beninati (Greenwich, Conn./Brunswick School) scored from 6-yards out with 55 seconds remaining for the final margin.
The Generals rushed for 442 yards in the game, gaining 537 total yards in the process. Lombardo led the way with a career-high 168 yards on just 17 carries and completed two passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. Vandalov rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, while Murray tallied 214 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 75 yards on 12 carries, caught two passes for 95 yards and collected 44 yards on kick returns. Heinsohn tallied 69 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and now has 3,205 career yards, eclipsing the former record of 3,140. Senior linebacker Jesse Jenkins (Roanoke, Va./William Fleming) and senior safety Jake Pelton (Charlottesville, Va./Monticello) both posted eight tackles to lead the defense. Jenkins added a sack, while Pelton notched his fourth interception of the season.
The Cardinals gained 268 total yards, but just 41 yards on the ground. Cordivari completed 22-of-37 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown (1 INT), while Cooke caught eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. Linebacker Conor Stueckler notched a game-high 19 tackles.
Washington and Lee returns to action on Saturday as it hosts Hampden-Sydney for a 1:00 pm contest. The winner will have sole possession of first place in the conference with one game remaining.