EDWARDSVILLE – No team wants to be on the other end of a program's first victory.
Wilkes was in jeopardy of being the first casualty for Misericordia on Saturday at Schmidt Stadium.
Then a strong second half by the Colonels erased the scare, as they outscored the Cougars by 28 points in the final 30 minutes of a 45-13 victory.
"We started to string a few series together on both sides of the ball. We just couldn't do it in the second half," Misericordia coach Mark Ross said. "That's a good football team and depth-wise, we're not quite where we need to be to hang for 60 minutes yet. I hate to say that but that's the reality of the situation."
Misericordia (0-6, 0-5 MAC) got off to a great start as Juwan Petties-Jackson returned the opening kickoff 90 yards to give the Cougars the first lead in program history, going up 6-0. They continued to stifle Wilkes (3-2, 2-2) on its first drive, forcing a three-and-out.
"It's the first time we had something positive," Ross said. "It was so exciting for the kids, we couldn't get the personnel out to kick the extra point right."
After Wilkes' Aux Wogou scored a pair of rushing touchdowns later in the first quarter and Jordan Fredo knocked through a 20-yard field goal for a 17-6 Colonels lead, the Cougars sustained a long drive, ending with a 5-yard TD from quarterback Jeff Puckett to Dean Lucchesi to trim the lead to 17-13 heading into halftime.
"We came in (at halftime) yelling and screaming saying that we need to turn things around. There's no way they should be in this game," said Wilkes linebacker Tate Moore-Jacobs, who had a game-high 14 tackles, including four for a loss.
Then the Colonels looked like the team that has been a force in the MAC over the last several years. They regrouped and came out on fire, holding the Cougars to 79 total yards in the second half while piling up nearly 300 of their own and scoring on all four of their possessions.
"Definitely intensity," Wilkes coach Frank Sheptock said about the difference in his team in the second half. "We need to start finding our burst earlier in the game to play with some of the upper echelon teams in the MAC."
Entering the game with the top rushing offense in the MAC, Wilkes used its run offense to its advantage with four rushing touchdowns in the second half and 179 yards on the ground, including all 119 yards Pat Inguilli racked up in the game-high performance.
The freshman from Wallenpaupack didn't get a carry until the third quarter, but finished with a pair of touchdowns on 20 carries. Inguilli got those carries after Wogou left the game in the second quarter with an injury that appeared to be a severe knee ailment.
Calvin Garvin and P.J. Incremona also had short touchdown runs in the second half for the Colonels. Wogou rushed for 77 yards on 15 touches before falling with injury. Eight backs had carries for positive yardage for Wilkes.
"I think that's one of our deepest groups," Sheptock added. "Aux is our most experienced player and with what we're doing right now it will be difficult to lose his services. But we're deep and I'm real pleased with how we're running the football."
Puckett, who led the Cougars in rushing with 46 yards, was also very efficient with his passing, completing nine of his 11attempts for 63 yards and one interception. Kurt Kowalski led the Cougars with 34 yards receiving on five receptions.
Ross said that he's trying to get Petties-Jackson more involved in the team's plans. He was used on offense, defense and special teams after starting the season just at cornerback. The freshman totaled 164 kick return yards, eight receiving yards and even had one rush and one tackle.
"I think he's very talented," Sheptock lauded about the Cougars all-around athlete. "He's a person that's definitely going to put some fear in the MAC over the next four years."
Wilkes 45, Misericordia 13
M – Juwan Petties-Jackson 90 kick off return (kick blocked) 14:46
W – Auxence Wogou 2 run (Jordan Fredo kick) 10:29
W – Wogou 1 run (Fredo kick) 6:09
W – Fredo 20 field goal 5:29
M – Dean Lucchesi 5 pass from Jeff Puckett (Steve Clemson kick) :54
W – Calvin Garvin 1 run (Fredo kick) 12:07
W – Pat Inguilli 3 run (Fredo kick) 7:30
W – P.J. Incremona 2 run (Fredo kick) 14:55
W – Inguilli 1 run (Frank Bobo kick) 4:35
|Sacks by-Yards Lost||2-9||2-10|
RUSHING – MISERICORDIA, Jeff Puckett 16-46, Frank Santarsiero 8-37, Cody Lamoreaux 14-33, Robin Custodio 1-4, Juwan Petties-Jackson 1-(minus-3). WILKES, Pat Inguilli 20-119, Auxence Wogou 15-77, Andrew Regan 4-21, Calvin Garvin 7-20, Justin Pellowski 1-14, P.J. Incremona 5-13, Joey Spies 2-8, Alex George 4-4.
PASSING – MISERICORDIA, Puckett 9-11-1-63. WILKES, George 12-17-0-145, Tyler Berntsen 1-1-0-11, TEAM 0-1-0-0
RECEIVING – MISERICORDIA, Kurt Kowalski 5-34, Dean Lucchesi 3-21, Petties-Jackson 1-8. WILKES, Drew Devitt 3-56, Pellowski 3-23, Payton Bachman 2-31, Ryan Casey 2-16, Dan Curry 1-16, Incremona 1-8, Jonathon Conklin 1-6.
INTERCEPTIONS – WILKES, Marcus Leaf
MISSED FIELD GOALS – None
Lycoming 42, FDU-Florham 7
Widener 56, Stevenson 20
Wilkes 45, Misericordia 13
Wilkes at Lebanon Valley
FDU-Florham at Albright
Delaware Valley at King's
Byes: Lycoming, Misericordia, Stevenson, Widener