Football - Sat, Sep. 23, 2006
CHICAGO - Following a rainy first half, the No. 11 ranked Saint Xavier University football team got its offense in gear scoring 24 points after the mid-game break en route to a 31-19 homecoming victory over Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) foe University of St. Francis (Ill.) Saturday at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. Behind 10 receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns by senior wide receiver Andy Ricca (LaPorte, Ind./Michigan City), the Cougars (3-1 overall, 2-0 MSFA) were able to overcome a slow start, which led to a slim 7-3 halftime lead over the winless Saints (0-4 overall, 0-2 MSFA).
Sophomore quarterback Billy Yeo (Matteson, Ill./Western Michigan University) played well in his return to the SXU starting line-up after sitting out all of last week's game against Malone College (Ohio) with a rib injury. Yeo completed 27 of his 42 pass attempts on the day for 289 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for a score in the third quarter. Senior running back Luke Schillo (Evergreen Park, Ill./Evergreen Park) led the ground game for Saint Xavier with eight carries for 82 yards, including a big 56-yard run early in the third quarter. Freshman wideout Billy McKeon (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) also had a solid outing for the Cougars recording five receptions for 69 yards as well as a kickoff return of 30 yards. Sophomore linebacker Joe Miller (Chicago, Ill./Gordon Tech) led the defensive effort for SXU posting eight tackles, including two tackles for losses and a sack.
Following a scoreless first quarter, Yeo found Ricca open in the end zone from 14 yards out on the third play of the second quarter to wrap up a 12-play, 94-yard drive. An unsuccessful fourth down conversion by the Cougars at the USF 27-yard line led to a 10-play, 62-yard drive for the Saints, which was capped by a 28-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Nick Heberer. Saint Xavier could not tack any more points on the board in the second quarter and took a 7-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Junior kicker Shane Longest (Wilmington, Ill./Wilmington) put a 36-yard field goal through the uprights with 13:16 remaining in the third quarter to highlight SXU's first drive of the second half extending its lead to seven, 10-3. Three possessions later, USF tied things up, 10-10, on a one-yard run by sophomore running back Gannon Novak on a fourth-and-goal situation with 5:27 to play in the quarter. The Cougars answered on their next possession and Yeo scrambled into the end zone from six yards out to help give his team back the lead, 17-10, to close out the third.
After a four and out by St. Francis, the Saint Xavier offense struck again with a five-play, 50-yard drive, which resulted in a eight-yard touchdown pass from Yeo to Ricca. With a 24-10 lead, the Cougars had a punt blocked and recovered the ball in the end zone to give USF a safety and the ball back. However, the Saints could not capitalize thanks to an interception by junior defensive back Mike Wilkinson (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) at the SXU 18-yard line. A one-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Mike Lally (Oak Lawn, Ill./St. Rita) put the exclamation point on the victory with 1:38 to play in the game. The Saints were able to score a final touchdown as well in the closing seconds when senior wide receiver Jason Hall hauled in a 30-yard reception from freshman quarterback John Goolsby with 17 seconds remaining.
Saint Xavier (3-1 overall, 2-0 MSFA) heads to Bourbonnais, Ill., on Saturday, September 30, to take on MSFA rival Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) at Ward Field. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m.