by Emily Kesel
After giving up a field goal early, the Westminster College Blue Jays scored 30 unanswered points to secure their first home win of the season on Saturday. With the win over the Eureka College Red Devils, the Blue Jays are now 4-2 overall and 4-1 in Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) competition.
The Blue Jays won the opening coin toss and chose to defer, giving Eureka the ball to begin the game. The Red Devils returned the kickoff 57 yards then drove down the field to the Westminster 10-yard line, where they converted a field goal to grab a 3-0 lead. The next drives by each team ended in punts, and the Blue Jays started their second drive with just over six and a half minutes in the quarter. A couple of 20-plus yard passes from senior quarterback Joe Plassmeyer helped the home team down to the Eureka 8-yard line, and on fourth and goal the Jays attempted a field goal. Junior Kevin Ludwig’s kick was wide right, keeping the score at 3-0 and giving the Red Devils the ball deep in their own territory. Two plays later, the Blue Jays took it back on an interception by sophomore Kyree Hart. The first quarter ended with Westminster again in a fourth and goal situation. This time Ludwig’s kick was good, and the score was knotted at three points apiece to begin the second quarter.
Eureka’s ensuing drive went only 9 yards in five plays, thanks to a sack by senior Kyle Bryant, and the Blue Jays started their own drive with about 12 minutes remaining in the half. The drive was cut short, however, by a Eureka interception. Three out of the next five possessions ended in three-and-outs for the two teams, and the home team took over on their own 25 with about four and a half minutes remaining. Then, on a third and five situation, Plassmeyer found junior Austin Kempker over the middle and Kempker ran it all the way for a 70-yard touchdown. Ludwig’s point after attempt was good, giving the Blue Jays a 10-3 lead, which they would take into halftime.
The second half began in much of the same manner as the first had ended for the Jays. A couple of big third down conversions helped them to the Eureka 13-yard line where Plassmeyer connected with sophomore Jack Williams for another Westminster touchdown. The PAT was good, and the lead increased to 14 points over the Red Devils. The defense stopped Eureka on the next two drives, and the offense took over again at their own 15 with about five minutes left in the third quarter. On third and 10, Plassmeyer completed a pass to sophomore Mike Washington for a crucial 48-yard gain, then the Plassmeyer to Williams combination was successful again for a 35-yard touchdown. The Westminster lead was then 24-3 after the PAT. Another Eureka drive ended in a punt, giving the Jays the ball again to end the third quarter.
Westminster kept the scoring trend going on the first drive of the final quarter. A 23-yard catch by Washington put the Blue Jays in Eureka territory where they continued to move down the field. On fourth and nine, the Blue Jays appeared to fail to convert, but a holding penalty resulted in an automatic first down and another chance. With eleven yards to go on third and goal, Plassmeyer again found Austin Kempker for a touchdown. It would be the final scoring play of the game, as Ludwig’s PAT missed its target, holding the score at 30-3. Neither team’s offense could come up with much after that, and the game ended in the Blue Jays first home win of the season.
Defensively, the Blue Jays had 21 players record at least one tackle. Leading that charge was freshman Antoine Harris, who recorded four solo tackles, followed by Bryant and sophomore Odunayo Oyesany, who each had three. Bryant and freshman Josh Brown each contributed sacks which resulted in 8-yard losses. Hart finished with two interceptions for 15 yards and broke up five other passes.
On the offensive side, Plassmeyer completed 27 of his 55 passes for a total of 432 yards and four TDs. Junior Jantzen Bradford led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 53 yards, an average of 4.4 yards per carry. Freshman Latif Adams also contributed 11 rushes for 23 yards. Washington and Kempker led the receivers with 8 catches for 120 yards and 4 catches for 105 yards, respectively. Williams also caught 6 passes for 87 yards. Ludwig was 1-for-2 on field goals and averaged 40.2 yards on his punts and 54.7 yards on kickoffs.
The Blue Jays’ next game will be Saturday at Iowa Wesleyan, and the next home game will take place the following Saturday during Homecoming against Northwestern. Both are UMAC contests.