Warriors hold off Saints in 54-47 shootout victory
Football - Sun, Sep. 17, 2017
ABERDEEN, S.D.— In a game that turned out to be a pass-happy attack, the Waldorf University football team won in a thrilling 54-47 shootout on Saturday night against Presentation College.
The Waldorf University run defense was actually rather decent, as nobody on the Presentation College Saints (1-2) gained over 57 yards on the ground. Saints quarterback Austin Eggl led his team with eight carries for 48 rushing yards.
However, Waldorf's (2-1) pass defense was another story.
Eggl shredded Waldorf's secondary for 354 passing yards and seven touchdown passes. His completion percentage was slightly over 67 percent (31-46).
Despite his defense giving up seven touchdown passes, first-year head coach Josh Littrell was very excited about his team coming out on top in a road conference game.
"We gave up seven touchdowns, but we scored eight," Littrell explained. "That's the great thing about football. It's a team sport. It's about winning the football game. It doesn't matter if you win by one or by 100."
Luckily for the Warriors, Presentation had its fair share of troubles on the defensive side of the ball.
The Warriors controlled the line of scrimmage from the opening kickoff, with Jordin Roberts leading the way for Waldorf's ground-and-pound attack. Roberts pounded the rock by posting 21 carries for 140 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Warriors starting quarterback Hilton Joseph added 14 carries for 106 yards.
In fact, Joseph's dual-threat ability gave the Saints defense fits all evening long.
The sophomore from Miami, Fla. completed 20 passes and threw for 262 yards in the seven-point win. Joseph, who played his prep career at North Miami Senior High School, finished the game with a completion percentage of approximately 53 percent, two touchdown passes, and one interception.
Littrell says Joseph is learning the offense well, even though he's still an underclassman.
"He played within himself on Saturday," said Littrell. "He didn't do anything else than we knew what he could do. He's a guy that wants the ball in his hands when the game's on the line. That's what you're looking for in a quarterback. He did a great job of distributing the ball to his receivers and running backs."
Joseph might have stolen the show by having at least 100 yards in both rushing and passing yards, but Waldorf's defense should also get some credit for forcing some key turnovers throughout the game.
After the Warriors offense punted on its first possession of the game, Samuel Huntley punched the ball out of Dominick Martinez's hands on the corresponding punt return. This gave the Warriors great field possession at Presentation's own 20-yard-line, and the offense would respond with a quick touchdown to make it 6-0. Cale Crowder would score on a two-yard running play.
Later on in the game, with Presentation leading 33-26, Eggl tried to catch the defense off guard with a quarterback sneak inside his own 40-yard line. To his surprise, Warriors linebacker Connor Curran wasn't fooled and made a professional form tackle on the QB to also force a fumble. Curran saw the ball come out of Eggl's hands, and he picked it up for a touchdown the other way. Warriors punter/placekicker Adam Rademacher would miss the PAT, so the Saints still led at the time 33-32 with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Although Eggl threw seven TD passes on the night, it was his turnovers that would ultimately cost his team from recording a win.
Skipping ahead to the fourth quarter, Presentation led 40-38 with 12:28 remaining. The junior signal caller decided to throw it deep down the field, but Cameron Newsome read the play perfectly and intercepted Eggl's pass for a humongous turnover.
Newsome was also solid on offense, as the sophomore from Century, Fla. caught four balls for 64 yards and two TD receptions. Littrell emphasized after the game that even though Newsome played on both sides of the ball, he didn't show signs of major fatigue in the fourth quarter because "he's a gazelle who never gets tired."
Newsome's interception gave the ball back to the Warriors, but it would be up to Joseph to lead his team on a game-winning drive. The Miami, Fla. product did just that by helping to conduct a 10-play, 73-yard drive en route to a 46-40 Warriors lead. Joseph finished the play with an 11-yard TD reception to Benjamin Mau.
After the Saints offense went three-and-out, the Warriors special teams unit would force yet another turnover. With the Saints down by just six points, punter Dylan Paulsen tried to pin the Warriors deep inside their own territory. However, Frankie Contreras got a stupendous jump from the snap count and ended up blocking the punt attempt.
After Contreras made a game-changing play on special teams, Joseph showed great leadership behind center and led a six-play drive from Presentation's 33-yard line. Roberts would finish the play with a 14-yard rushing TD. Rademacher connected on the PAT to make it 54-40 late in the fourth quarter.
As good as Waldorf's special teams unit was on Saturday, nobody's perfect. The ensuing kickoff would see Presentation College kick returner Eric Bell take the ball 54 yards down the field to the Waldorf 35-yard line. Eggl, who grew up in Minot, N.D., led a quick four-play TD drive to trim the Warriors lead to just seven points.
However, Presentation College would simply run out of luck and magic. The onside kick attempt went into the hands of Curran, who immediately downed the ball after catching it. Curran completed the evening with six tackles, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
During the onside kick, Presentation College committed an unnecessary roughness penalty, which gave Waldorf excellent field position at its own 48-yard line. The only thing that Waldorf needed to win the game was a first down to keep the clock running. Joseph picked up his teammates with a 14-yard first down completion to Tyron Jones on 3rd and 7. The QB then went into victory formation and took a knee in order to preserve a big time conference victory for Waldorf.
The Warriors will look to improve to 3-1 when they go up against the University of Jamestown (0-4) on Sept. 23 at 1:00 p.m.
Littrell says it's impressive how his team's record is 2-1, despite only dressing 50 young men per game on the sideline.
"We're playing with 50 guys," Littrell said. "These other teams that we show up to play...they have 100-150 guys on the opposing sideline. We'll show up with 50 guys because that's all that we have. Our kids are resilient. They understand the hard-hat mentality. I can't speak enough of what our team represents and how they're representing our university right now."