September 20, 2011

W&J-Thomas More Game Notes

More news about: Washington and Jefferson

No. 8 Thomas More College (2-0, 1-0 PAC) at Washington & Jefferson College (2-1, 1-0 PAC)

Time:  1:30 pm

Site: Cameron Stadium (3,500)

Series:  Tied 3-3

Series Streak: +3 TMC

Video: http://www.livesportsvideo.com/golive/goliveevents.asp?q=WashingtonandJeffersonCollege

Audio: http://www.wjpa.com/sports.htm

Live Stats: http://www2.washjeff.edu/Athletics/xlive.htm

Last Meeting: TMC 29, W&J 21 -- 9/25/2010

First Meeting: W&J 32, TMC 14 -- 11/5/2005

Last W&J Win: W&J 42, TMC 0 -- 11/3/2007

Last TMC Win: TMC 29, W&J 21 -- 9/25/2010

Last W&J Win at W&J: W&J 21, TMC 12 -- 11/4/2006

Last TMC Win at W&J: TMC 14, W&J 7 -- 10/31/2009

THE SERIES:  Washington & Jefferson and Thomas More meet for the seventh time in history.  W&J won the first three games in the series, but the Saints have captured the last three which have directly led to their PAC titles.  The teams have split the only two games played at Cameron Stadium with TMC winning the last time 14-7 on Halloween in 2009. 

THE HEAD COACHES: Mike Sirianni (Mount Union '94) owns an 81-15 (.844) record at W&J in his ninth season as the head coach.  The three-time PAC Coach of the Year and 2004 South Region Coach of the Year is fifth among all active NCAA head coaches in winning percentage (minimum five years of experience).  Jim Hilvert (St. Joseph's (Ind.) College '93) is in his fifth year at Thomas More.  He has led the Saints to three PAC championships and NCAA Division III Championship playoff appearances.  Hilvert boasts a 36-11 (.766) career record. 

W&J vs. THE PAC: W&J has amassed a 251-81-4 (.750) all-time record against current members of the Presidents' Athletic Conference.  The Presidents have won 64 of their last 69 conference contests.  A win Saturday would give W&J the inside track to its first conference title since 2007. 

Bethany (68-20)              

Geneva (37-19-2)                 

Grove City (34-12) 

Saint Vincent (4-0)       

Thiel (40-22-2)                    

Thomas More (3-3)

Waynesburg (35-3)                                   

Westminster (30-2)

THE LAST MEETING {TMC 29, W&J 21; 9/25/2010, Crestview Hills, Ky.}:  Thomas More scored the only points of the second half to earn a hard-fought 29-21 PAC victory over W&J at The Bank of Kentucky Field.  The Saints limited the Presidents to four first downs and 84 yards in the second half.  TMC punted on its first possession, but the ball deflected off a W&J blocker and was recovered by Thomas More at the Presidents' 31-yard line.  The W&J defense held the Saints off the scoreboard; however, three plays later W&J fumbled and Dustin Zink converted a 28-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead at the 9:18 mark of the first quarter.  Craig Sedunov's career-best 53-yard kickoff return set up W&J at the TMC 36-yard line, but a 27-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.  The Saints immediately took advantage as a short pass from Rob Kues to Kendall Owens went 80 yards for a touchdown and 10-0 lead at the 6:43 mark.  W&J answered three minutes later with a seven-play, 63-yard drive capped on an acrobatic 32-yard touchdown reception by Jordan Roycroft from Gino Rometo.  Zach Autenreib intercepted a tipped Rometo pass early in the second quarter, setting up the Saints at the W&J 21-yard line.  Four plays later, Kues drilled a 3-yard scoring pass to Mercier Doucette to reclaim the 10-point lead.  A 46-yard pass from Rometo to Adam Dominick set up another Rometo-Roycroft scoring pass.  Roycroft hauled in the one-handed reception from six yards out to bring the Presidents to within 17-14 with 11:08 left in the second quarter. The Washington & Jefferson defense forced a punt after three plays and the offense strung together another long drive (10 plays, 59 yards) and took the lead five seconds before halftime on a 9-yard Rometo to Roycroft touchdown pass.  Zink's 39-yard field goal late in the third quarter closed the Saints' deficit to 21-20.  Following a W&J punt, Thomas More drove 55 yards in eight plays and Domonique Hayden scored from a yard out for a 26-21 lead.  Zink tacked on a 19-yard field goal with 7:38 left for a 29-21 advantage.  Washington & Jefferson had two opportunities to produce a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but could not get closer than the TMC 31-yard line.  Kues paced the TMC offense with 160 passing yards and two touchdowns and 87 rushing yards.  Nick Gramke had 11 tackles and one sack for a Saints' defense which produced seven sacks and three turnovers.  Roycroft had a record-breaking day with a single-game, school-record 14 receptions for 145 yards and three touchdowns.  The defense was led by Frank Gigler who had eight tackles, including four for a loss.  W&J tackled TMC ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage 11 times. The Presidents outgained Thomas More by a 334-291 margin and limited the Saints to only 12 first downs, while racking up 19.  W&J also had a five-minute time of possession advantage (32:32-27:28).

SCOUTING THOMAS MORE:  The Saints have achieved their highest national ranking in school history as both D3football.com and the AFCA list TMC as the No. 8 team in the country.  Thomas More has started the year with blowout home victories over Hanover (44-13) and Geneva (41-6).  The Hanover game was closer than the score may indicate as the Saints led only 14-7 midway through the third quarter before breaking out for three touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the period, including a pair by sophomore Kendall Owens.  Owens has scored four touchdowns this year, two through the air and two on punt returns.  He has returned three punts this year for 149 yards.  Junior quarterback Rob Kues has developed into the leader on offense as he has completed 71 percent of his pass attempts for 483 yards and four touchdowns.  Sophomore Domonique Hayden has only rushed 14 times this season, but has racked up 105 yards and five scores (tied for 1st in the nation).  He is also the team's leading receiver with 12 catches for 156 yards and one touchdown.  Defensively, opponents are only averaging 2.6 yards per rush against the Saints.  Junior linebacker Nick Gramke has 13 tackles and two fumble recoveries, while sophomore defensive back Alex Taylor has 11 tackles, seven pass breakups and one interception.  Junior Zach Autenreib is also an All-American in the secondary.  He has six stops and one interception. 

TIME FOR TIM:  Junior RB Tim McNerney will be back in the starting lineup after missing the past two games.  McNerney has scored at least one touchdown in nine consecutive games, including seven-straight, multi-touchdown performances.

TOP 10 WIN:  A win over eighth-ranked Thomas More would be W&J's first win over a ranked opponent since knocking off Millsaps, ranked third at the time, in the second round of the 2008 NCAA playoffs.

SIMMONS' WORKOUT:  Junior running back DeAndre Simmons filled in admirably for Tim McNerney at Bethany as he set a career high with 96 yards on 14 rushing attempts.  He scored the Presidents' first touchdown, the second of his career, and his 32-yard scamper on the first W&J play of the second half set up the team's third touchdown.  Simmons is 10th in the PAC in rushing with 114 yards.

PAC ACADEMIC HONOR:  Senior defensive end Frank Gigler was selected as the PAC SAAC Scholar-Athlete of the Month for September.  Gigler, a pre-physical therapy major with a 3.69 GPA, has 67 tackles (10 this year) and 10 sacks during his career.  He led the W&J defense last year with 15 tackles for a loss. 

IT'S BEEN AWHILE: W&J has not suffered back-to-back losses at Cameron Stadium since falling to Hanover (30-20) and Grove City (31-7) in 1998.  In addition, W&J has not lost to the same opponent four consecutive years since Buffalo State won four-straight from 1996-1999.  Thomas More could end both streaks on Saturday. 

SACK STREAK:  The Washington & Jefferson defense has recorded at least one sack in each of the last 12 games dating back to week three of last season. W&J had eight players record at least one sack in 2010, a number which has already been surpassed this year.  A total of 10 Presidents have a sack, including senior Pat Fening and junior Andy McGill who both have a pair.  Last year, 17 different Presidents posted at least one tackle for a loss.  Through three games, 15 different players have already accomplished the feat, including senior Neil Sorice's team-high five.  W&J is 20th in NCAA Division III in sacks (3.7 spg) and scoring defense (11.3 ppg). 

ROSE BLOOMING:  Senior linebacker Mitch Rose intercepted a pass for the second-straight week on Saturday at Bethany.  His interception and 15-yard return set up the touchdown which put the Presidents ahead for good.  Rose is also fourth on the squad with 12 tackles.

BY THE NUMBERS:  W&J's week two loss to Delaware Valley marked just the third time under Head Coach Mike Sirianni that the Presidents could not hold onto a halftime lead.  Washington & Jefferson boasts a 67-3 record when leading at halftime since 2003.  Washington & Jefferson has also won 25 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points.  The last eight times an opponent has held W&J to less than 30 points, the Presidents have struggled to a 3-5 record. 

SOARING NEIL:  Senior linebacker Neil Sorice is tied for 24th in NCAA Division III with an average of 12.0 tackles per game.  He also leads the PAC with 36 overall tackles and two forced fumbles.  His five tackles for a loss rank second in the conference.  Sorice is 32 tackles shy of 200 for his career. 

WHO'S TURN?:  Turnovers have been key in the W&J-TMC series which began in 2005.  In the first three meetings won by W&J, the Presidents forced 10 turnovers, while only committing three.  In the three games since, Thomas More holds an 8-2 advantage in turnovers.  During TMC's 35-29 win in 2008, the Saints held a 2-1 edge, including a key third-quarter fumble recovery which helped turn a 14-14 tie into a three-touchdown lead.  Three second-half interceptions doomed the Presidents in 2009 and the Saints held a 3-0 edge in the turnover battle last season.  TMC is sixth in the nation in turnover margin (+2.5 tpg) in 2011.

PASSING LEADERS:  W&J sophomore quarterback Matt Bliss leads the PAC with an average of 264.0 passing yards per game.  He has completed 65 percent of his passes and has tossed a league-high seven touchdowns.  TMC junior Rob Kues is second behind Bliss at 241.5 yards per game and is also 21st in the country in pass efficiency (167.4).   

NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP:  Sophomore wide receiver Alex Baroffio is establishing himself as one of the elite players in the PAC.  He leads the conference and ranks 33rd nationally in receiving yards (108.3 ypg) and he is also second in the PAC (behind TMC's Kendall Owens' 49.7 ypr average) in punt returns (12.2 ypr).  Baroffio had five catches for 100 yards and a touchdown last week and played a key role on three of the Presidents' five scoring drives.  

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