Saint Xavier wide receiver Justin Pringle finds room ro run during a 16-15 loss to Indiana Wesleyan in the Cougars' home-opener on Sept. 16. Photo courtesy of Saint Xavier University Department of Athletics
Indiana Wesleyan scrapes by Saint Xavier after missed 2-pt conversion
By Mike Walsh
Life is about choices. Sometimes, the result is to our benefit; sometimes it is not.
In Saint Xavier’s loss to visiting Indiana Wesleyan on Sept. 16 at George R. Deaton Field in Mount Greenwood, head coach Mike Feminis was presented with an important decision to make with his team down a point.
With 2:55 to play in the fourth quarter, the Cougars scored to on a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Stuart Ross (15-of-32, 101 yards) to Matthew Chavers to make it a 16-15 game. Feminis, the veteran mentor, was faced with either kicking the PAT to tie the game or go for the two-point conversion.
Without hesitation, Feminis chose the latter option.
On a reverse pass intended for Ross, wide receiver Justin Pringle (6 catches, 57 yards) was intercepted by the Wildcats’ Luke Bays.
“I’m playing to win,” Feminis said. “This was an old-school heavyweight fight with both teams throwing a lot of haymakers. I wanted to win the football game right there. Give them credit, they made the play on it.
“But I have no regrets at all. I felt good about it. … I knew the game would be like this.”
Wesleyan (3-0), which came into the game ranked No. 5 in the NAIA, limited the Cougars (1-2) to 13 first downs and 159 yards of total offense. SXU finished with 58 yards on 23 attempts, with Amari Venerable (6 carries, 23 yards) and Chavers (5 carries, 18 yards) leading the way.
Defensively, senior defensive back Ron Carroll finished with a team-best 11 tackles, including one tackle for loss. He also had a diving interception.
“I could not be prouder of our defense,” Feminis said. “In the second half, we pretty much completely shut them down. We are very aggressive, very athletic and our defense put us in position to win the football game.”
Finn Brandon, Ryan Fitzgerald and Terry Elias added 10 tackles apiece for SXU. The Cougars limited the Wildcats to 113 yards rushing on 46 carries and 175 yards passing.
“We all did well tonight,” Elias said. “We just have to work harder in practice and focus on the details every week.”
Dederrian Williams (32 carries, 121 yards) gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead at 5:17 of the first quarter on a 1-yard TD run. A little over three minutes later, Pringle’s 1-yard TD run around the left side and Peyton Benes’ PAT kick leveled the score at 7 at the 2:08 mark.
The Wildcats led 16-7 with 7:14 to play in the third quarter after Ross was flagged for intentional grounding while throwing from his end zone, resulting in a safety.
Saint Xavier got those two points 10 seconds into the fourth quarter when Stokes was whistled for intentional grounding while throwing from the Wildcats’ end zone, making it 16-9.
After beating St. Francis (Indiana) in the season-opener, the Cougars have lost to two high-quality opponents in No. 6 -ranked Marian University (Indiana) and Indiana Wesleyan.
“If Indiana Wesleyan is No. 5 and Marian is No. 6, we’re No. 6½,” Feminis said. “We’re a good football team and we will show it.”
The Cougars welcome Madonna University (Michigan) on Saturday at noon at Deaton Field. The Crusaders are 0-3 and have been outscored by a combined 186-7 this season.
“We’ve got to capitalize and (against Wesleyan) we made too many mistakes,” Carroll said. “If we pay attention to the little details, we’ll be alright.”
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