More news about: John Carroll
Nov 26, 2016
With the season on the line, momentum flipped multiple times in the second half and overtime. It was the John Carroll football team who would hold that momentum last.
The Blue Streaks advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament thanks to a 20-17 double overtime win over the Wesley Wolverines in front of a home crowd in University Heights, OH.
Anthony Leonetti caught the game-winning touchdown from Anthony Moeglin in the extra period. The defense recorded eight sacks on the day and was able to pick up Moeglin after the freshman threw four interceptions.
From beginning to end, the second round affair could not have been scripted any better.
After picking up a pair of first downs on its first drive, Wesley could not convert on third down against a pesky JCU defensive front and was forced to punt. One play into the Blue and Gold's opening offensive attack yielded an interception over the middle of the field that was returned 32 yards for a touchdown by safety Andre Connolly. The pick six broke the scoring barrier and paved way to a 7-0 lead for the Wolverines.
The Blue Streaks rebounded their next offensive possession courtesy of 24 all-purpose yards from running back Ro Golphin and a 23-yard completion from Moeglin to tight end Mark Baniewicz. Unfortunately, the promising drive culminated in a missed 33-yard field goal off the boot of Matt Danko.
The nation's fourth-ranked defense spearheaded by the likes of Dylan Hall and Jimmy Thomas neutralized Jamar Baynard to provide JCU with another opportunity to even the score. Nico James answered the call.
A drive highlighted by a 31-yard pass to James and a 25-yard completion to Marshall Howell was capped by a 17-yard touchdown to the highly-involved James.
Highlighting the home team's pass-rushing prowess was the tandem consisting of Ray Brown and Conner Bogard with a sack apiece. Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley's group had four sacks on opposing quarterback Nick Falkenberg in just the first half of the contest.
The Wolverines responded with their second interception of Moeglin. Safety Capp Miller took the ball away from the intended target Marshall Howell by positioning himself under the ball at the five-yard line.
At the half, the score stood even at 7-7.
The low-scoring affair continued to stay true to its form in the early stages of the third quarter thanks to two consecutive drives that left both programs empty-handed. Wesley had amassed an average of over 40 points and 500 yards per game entering play but still had nothing to show for.
Shortly thereafter, Moeglin hurled his third interception of the game on a fly route up the middle; DaJahn Lowery picked off the line-drive pass.
With Wesley taking over on offense to commence the fourth quarter, Falkenberg drove the Wolverines toward the red zone in pursuit of breaking the tie. Moments after being stopped on third down, kicker Eric Speidel launched a 36-yard field goal attempt into the arms of Anthony Christopher for a crucial blocked kick.
Consecutive interceptions from Moeglin and Falkenberg left the Blue Streaks and Wolverines without more than one first down on each of their respective ensuing drives.
One of the two programs had to score at some point. Enter Sam Kukura.
Awaking from his rushing slumber with only six previous yards of offense, Kukura broke a multitude of tackles and exploded across midfield for a 35-yard rush. JCU could not further the drive as Danko punted the ball into the end zone for a touchback.
Wesley employed another pass-heavy attack down the field but failed to convert when they needed to. Wide receiver Alex Kemp dropped a pass that would have been the decisive blow in the game on second down. An incomplete passin the direction of Baynard resulted in another perfect punt from Cooper Bentz to the John Carroll four-yard line.
The Blue and Gold rushed the ball twice before taking a knee to force a decisive overtime period.
The first home NCAA Tournament overtime in the history of the Blue Streak football program began in highlight reel fashion. Facing pressure in the pocket, Moeglin was able to fend off the force of an opposing defender and complete a pass to fullback Anthony Leonetti for a first down.
What happened next could not be scripted.
The Moeglin-to-James connection made its long-awaited return in the form of a 4-yard touchdown connection. Danko tacked on the extra-point for a 14-7 lead. Falkenberg and the Wolverine offense were forced to make a play on fourth down after yet another dropped pass and a perfectly defended play in the corner of the end zone courtesy of Scott Eilerman.
With the game on the line, Falkenberg found Baynard up the middle for a short touchdown pass, their first offensive score of the game. Speidel nailed the extra-point to even the score once more.
JCU added to their tally of eight sacks, two of which came on Wesley's first drive of double overtime. Facing fourth down, Speidel was faced with the daunting task of making a 47-yard field goal. The kick took its time, but it sailed in.
Two plays later, Blue Streaks would make history.
Moeglin found the converted offensive lineman Leonetti who was curling off a play-action fake for a glorious game-winning touchdown.
"We knew we were going to be in for a battle," Arth said. "Just so proud of our team, proud of their resiliency and the character that they showed in being able to fight through some adversity and overcome some difficult situations and get a great win."
"I think Anthony came in as a linebacker," said Arth. "I think he moved to d-line and then over to fullback, he was like our sixth man on the offensive line and just does everything. There's nobody that plays or practices harder. There's nobody that playing for John Carroll means more to than Anthony. Guys like that, you know you can count on. Those are the guys whose hands you want the ball in at the end of games. So proud of him and so proud of our whole group for the way they responded."
"I didn't think he (Leonetti) was going to score," Moeglin said, laughing. "I didn't look past him, I just knew he was open and I knew I was going to throw it to him. When he caught it and he ran it into the end zone, that was the best. He's the most fitting person to do that."
John Carroll will take Wisconsin-Whitewater on Dec. 3. Details will be posted at JCUSports.com.