DALLAS TWP. —In the fourth quarter, with Wilkes pinned at its 2-yard line and holding a three-point lead, the near-capacity crowd at Mangelsdorf Field was feeling that Misericordia’s first win in school history wasn’t too far away.
The Colonels had an upcoming second-and-38, but they were determined to not be the first casualty for the Cougars. With the help of a 59-yard punt by Jordan Fredo and a big sack by Nick Kocman, the Colonels had Misericordia back on its own 9 and turned that field position battle into 16 unanswered points to keep the Cougars out of the win column with a 33-14 victory.
“Just coming out and taking it to Misericordia felt really good,” said Wilkes quarterback Taylor Young, who started his first collegiate game.
The freshman signal caller had a near flawless game and gave the team a much-needed boost with incumbent starting QB Tyler Berntsen out for the season. The freshman completed 14 of his 21 passes, throwing for 183 yards and three touchdowns with just one interception. The trio of TD tosses all went to receivers and was the first time this season any Wilkes wideout caught a scoring pass. Two of them went to fellow freshman David Claybrook, who hauled in a game-high seven receptions for 107 yards.
“During practice this week we’ve been working together after practice with routes, getting extra time in and it showed out here on the field today,” Young added.
Said Wilkes coach Frank Sheptock about his new QB-WR duo: “David is a good receiver and as him and Taylor get on the same page, that’s going to be a very dynamic duo.”
The rapport between the two showed in the fourth quarter when Claybrook’s second TD reception came on the drive after Misericordia had to punt from its 9. The 32-yard strike where Young found Claybrook in the middle of the field extended the Wilkes (2-2 overall, 1-2 MAC) lead to 24-14 with 10:35 left in the game.
There was still time for the Cougars (0-4, 0-3) to get back in the contest. But after three plays on their next drive from their 27, coach Mark Ross decided to go for it on fourth-and-1. QB Jeff Puckett ran a keeper but the Wilkes defense didn’t bend as the play went for no gain, giving the Colonels great field position. Jordan Fredo made his second field goal of the game, putting Wilkes in front by 13 with 6:27 left.
The Cougars still had time to string together a few scoring drives. And once again, the Wilkes defense came through forcing Misericordia to go for it on fourth-and-6 from its 30. The completion to Robin Custodio fell a yard shy.
The Wilkes defense also clamped down on Puckett, who entered the game as the leading rusher in the MAC with 526 yards and six rushing TDs. But the sophomore, who has run the read option attack so well in the team’s first two games, was held to just 63 rushing yards and a 1-yard TD run. Puckett also hooked up with Juwan Petties-Jackson for a 43-yard TD pass in the third quarter. They tried a similar play in the fourth, but Petties-Jackson couldn’t get the separation from Omar Richardson that he did the first time.
“I think our defense is coming. The last several years, our defense has given up a lot of points and a lot of yards,” Sheptock added. “Those young men have put in a lot of hard work, have really bought into the system. I think we’re doing some better things fundamentally…I think the Wilkes defense is making a return where we’re able to stop some people and shut them down. I’m real proud of the defense.”
Ross was not available for comment after the game.
Wilkes 33, Misericordia 14
WILKES — Fredo 29 field goal 6:21
WILKES —Claybrook 8 pass from Young (Fredo kick) 1:28
MISERICORDIA — Puckett 1 run (Newins kick) 2:31
WILKES —Conklin 23 pass from Young (Fredo kick) 11:35
MISERICORDIA — Petties-Jackson 43 pass from Puckett (Newins kick) 5:03
WILKES — Claybrook 32 pass from Young (Fredo kick) 10:35
WILKES —Fredo 26 field goal 6:27
WILKES —Inguilli 3 run (kick failed) 3:03
RUSHING — WILKES, P.J. Incremona 12-63, Pat Inguilli 18-62, Taylor Young 8-40, Calvin Garvin 7-13, Ryan Behrmann 3-7, Alex George 2-(minus-17). MISERICORDIA, Jeff Puckett 21-63, Frank Santarsiero 14-41, Robin Custodio 4-14, Ryan Kurtz 2-8, Tosin Adeyemo 4-7.
PASSING — WILKES, Taylor Young 14-21-1-183. MISERICORDIA, Jeff Puckett 10-18-0-86
RECEIVING — WILKES, David Claybrook 7-107, Alex George 4-31, Jonathon Conklin 2-35, Pat Inguilli 1-0. MISERICORDIA, Juwan Petties-Jackson 4-52, Kurt Kowalski 2-24, Robin Custodio 1-5, Chris Kirkland 1-5, Frank Santarserio 1-2.
INTERCEPTIONS — MISERICORDIA, Ben Camacho
MISSED FGs — WILKES, Jordan Fredo (37, WR)