CANTON, Ohio - As the saying goes by Yogi Berra and Lenny Kravitz, "It ain't over 'till it's over." That rang true on Saturday (Nov. 2) night at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Trailing 24-21 with 13 seconds left, the Walsh Cavaliers scored on a third and goal from the 11 to defeat the Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers 27-24 on Senior Night.
The Cavaliers fought off a feisty Panthers team with two comebacks in the game for their second win of the season.
Kentucky Wesleyan struck first with a 54-yard touchdown from Wiley Cain to Sam Thomas five minutes into the game, taking an early 7-0 lead. Following the first drive, the defenses prevailed as the game was 7-0 after the first period.
The Panthers started the second quarter in the red zone but the Cavaliers defense held them to three points. Derrian Anderson wrapped up the quarterback, Cain for a six-yard loss, forcing a third down. Two plays later, Chris Mangold converted the 38-yard field goal for a Kentucky Wesleyan 10-0 lead with 12 minutes left in the second quarter.
On Walsh's second drive of the quarter, Walsh took advantage of a penalty. While deep in their own territory, a third down pass was incomplete due to defensive pass interference. Moving 15 yards up, Nick Gassman found Koby Adu-Poku for a 64-yard touchdown pass. The long Gassman to Adu-Poku connection counted for six points as Chad Mirolo's extra point trimmed the lead to 10-7 with 2:34 left before halftime. Walsh forced a turnover on downs in the final minute but the game was 10-7 at the intermission.
Kentucky Wesleyan missed a 45-yard field goal on their first drive of the second half, giving the Cavaliers the ball. The quarterback duo of Dominic Davis and Gassman drove the Cavaliers down the field, leading to a score. Gassman completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to Adu-Poku as Walsh took the 14-10 lead with 7:04 remaining in the third quarter.
Myles Williams picked off Cain on the next drive, putting the Cavs in the Panthers side of the field. Devin Kenerly dominated a four play, 42 yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown run. Walsh capped a 21-0 run as they led the Panthers 21-10 with 4:20 left in the third frame.
Kentucky Wesleyan scored on the next drive on a five-yard touchdown run from Corey Johnson Jr., trimming the lead to four as the fourth quarter loomed on a chilly night in Canton. Johnson put the Panthers up 24-21 on a two-yard TD run with just over ten minutes left on the clock.
Both team exchanged punts before the Cavaliers offense took the field with four minutes left in the game. Once the offense rolled into KWC territory, Gassman connected with Logan Lindsay on a 22-yard pass and Walsh was in the red zone. Three straight runs from Gassman had the Cavaliers inside the ten-yard line. Adu-Poku scored from a yard out but the play was negated by a holding call. Facing third and goal from the 11 yard line, Gassman floated a fade pass to the left corner of the endzone. Quinn Thomas made the catch for the touchdown with 13 seconds left in the game. Mirolo's extra point was blocked but Walsh led 27-24 with seconds remaining.
The Panthers had time for two plays but the Cavaliers kept them at bay, sealing the 27-24 win on Senior Night.
The Cavaliers offense set a season-high with 373 yards of total offense. The passing game for Walsh accounted for 199 yards between Gassman and Davis. Gassman completed nine passes for 154 yards passing and three touchdowns. Davis made the most of his one pass, completing it for 45 yards. The rushing attack compiled 174 rushing yards on 41 carries. Adu-Poku led the team in rushing and receiving with 64 yards on 16 carries rushing and four catches for 128 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Walsh's defense sacked Cain five times and made ten tackles for a loss. Sal Sidebotham made ten tackles with half a sack while Leondre Crosby (0.5 sacks and 1.5 TFL) and Morgan Trust (1.5 sacks and 2 TFL) made seven tackles each.
After the game, the football team presented Walsh President Dr. Timothy Collins with the game ball.
The Cavaliers will go to Alderson Broaddus next Saturday (Nov. 9) for the G-MAC finale. Kickoff from West Virginia will be at 1:00 PM.