LEXINGTON, Va. – The 17th-ranked Washington and Lee football team claimed the 2015 Old Dominion Athletic Conference title and tied the school record for wins in a season with a 52-33 victory over Catholic on Saturday afternoon at Wilson Field.
The Generals (9-0, 6-0) forced a 3-and-out on Catholic's (3-6, 1-5) opening possession of the game and marched 72 yards on six plays, as junior running back Connor Chess (Fairfax, Va. / Flint Hill) scored on a 34-yard touchdown run.
The defense came up with another stop on the next series, but following a 62-yard punt that was downed at the 1-yardline, W&L fumbled in the end zone resulting in a safety. The Cardinals then drove 51 yards on 11 plays on the ensuing possession, resulting in a 30-yard field goal by junior placekicker Peter Rosa (Darnestown, Md./St. John's College) that made it a 7-5 game with 5:12 left in the first quarter.
The Blue & White took control of the contest in the second quarter, scoring 21 points in the frame for a 28-5 lead at the break. Chess scored his second touchdown of the day on a 19-yard run at 14:53 and sophomore running back Walker Brand (Roanoke, Va. / Hidden Valley) followed with a 1-yard touchdown run at 8:37. Late in the half, junior linebacker Moody Heard (Houston, Texas / Episcopal) intercepted a pass at midfield and returned it to the CUA 26-yardline. The Generals scored four plays later on a 9-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Matt Sgro (Wilmington, Del. / Salesianum) to sophomore wide receiver Witt Hawkins (Memphis, Tenn. / Memphis University School) with two seconds left in the half. It was W&L's first touchdown pass of the season.
The Generals took the opening kick of the second half and drove 70 yards, capping things off with a 7-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Duncan Maxwell (Jackson, Miss. / Jackson Academy) for a 35-5 lead with 10:14 left in the third period.
Catholic junior running back Matt Perno (New Hyde Park, N.Y./Kellenberg) sandwiched a pair of touchdown runs around a 2-yard touchdown scamper from sophomore running back McKenna Johnston (Jupiter, Fla. / Benjamin School), making it a 42-19 game early in the fourth quarter. W&L received a 42-yard field goal from junior placekicker Matt Underhill (Bethesda, Md. / Landon) and a 14-yard touchdown pass from first-year quarterback Stephen McCaffery (Santa Barbara, Calif. / Laguna Blanca) to junior running back Jimmy Dugan (Rye, N.Y. / Rye) to round out its scoring on the day.
W&L amassed 513 total yards in the contest despite playing without its top two rushers in junior running back Marshall Hollerith (Richmond, Va. / St. Christopher's) and junior quarterback Charlie Nelson (Redding, Conn. / St. Luke's). The Generals tied the school record for rushing touchdowns in a season (48) and are just seven yards (3,995) from breaking the record for season rushing yards (4,001).
Chess led the offense with a career-best 159 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Brand notched 80 yards and a touchdown on 19 rushes, while Sgro rushed for 49 yards on six carries. He also completed 5-of-6 passes for 108 yards and one touchdown. Junior tight end Jack Taylor (Broad Run, Va. / Battlefield) caught two passes for a team-high 61 yards. On defense, sophomore linebacker Max Garrett (Fairfield, Conn. / Choate Rosemary Hall) notched 16 tackles for a second straight week and Heard finished with five tackles, a sack and an interception.
Perno paced the Cardinals with 110 yards and two touchdowns rushing on 12 carries. He also caught six passes for 41 yards. Senior quarterback T.J. Tutone (Reston, Va./Paul VI Catholic) completed 37-of-52 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown, but was intercepted twice. Junior wide receiver Lucas Morley (Olney, Md./Good Counsel) was his favorite target, catching eight balls for 70 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore linebacker Nicholas Della Jacono (Stamford, Conn./King) recorded a team-best 11 tackles.
Washington and Lee will look to complete the first 10-0 regular season in school history when it travels to Shenandoah next Saturday for a 1:00 pm contest.