Football - Sat, Sep. 19, 2009
CHICAGO - Led by four first-half touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving) from junior running back Donnie Selby (Alsip, Ill./Shepard), the No. 14 ranked Saint Xavier University football team had little trouble pulling away for a 58-20 Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) victory over Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) Saturday evening at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. The Cougars (4-0 overall/2-0 MSFA) scored 28 first-quarter points and posted an impressive 538 yards of total offense en route to the convincing win. In fact, one of the first-quarter touchdowns Saturday tied a SXU record when junior quarterback Anthony Kropp (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) hit freshman wideout Wes Gastel (Freeport, Ill./Freeport) for a 99-yard reception, the longest play from scrimmage since Billy Yeo connected with Jim Doherty for a 99-yard strike against Malone University (Ohio) on October 27, 2007.

Another notable performer for Saint Xavier in Saturday's big victory was Kropp, who finished 18-for-21 for 289 yards and three touchdowns, all in first-half action. In the second half, redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Rizzi (Lansing, Ill./South Suburban CC/TF-South) also put up solid numbers going 7-for-9 for 38 yards and also rushing 10 times for 50 yards and a score. Gastel recorded three catches for 107 yards and a touchdown, while junior wide receiver Mike Maher (Plainfield, Ill./Providence Catholic) had four receptions for 62 yards and a TD. Selby led the ground attack for the Cougars with 10 carries for 74 yards. Defensively, senior linebacker Mike Lally (Oak Lawn, Ill./St. Rita) was stellar picking up four tackles (two solos), a tackle for a loss and an interception returned 26 yards for a touchdown. In addition, senior linebacker Shane Franken (Carol Stream, Ill./Driscoll Catholic) was everywhere on the field in the first half with two tackles, a sack and two interceptions.

SXU wasted little time getting on the scoreboard when Franken picked off ONU on its first play from scrimmage to give the Cougar offense the ball at the Olivet 25-yard line. Selby capped the short drive with a six-yard reception from Kropp just 34 seconds into the game. Following a fumble by the Tigers at the SXU one-yard line on the ensuing possession, Saint Xavier struck again quickly with the 99-yard pass by Kropp to Gastel to put the Cougars ahead, 14-0. Lally put SXU up, 21-0, on ONU's next drive when he returned a pick 26 yards for the score with 10:44 remaining in the first quarter. Olivet Nazarene responded with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a one-yard run by junior tailback Anthony Collier. It took only 23 more seconds for the Cougars to make up the ONU score when Selby found the endzone again on a rush from two yards out. Collier would break loose on ONU's first play of its next drive for a 73-yard touchdown run to complete the first-quarter scoring for both teams at the 2:51 mark.

Selby scored back-to-back rushing touchdowns early in the second quarter to put the Cougars ahead, 42-14. A tackle for a loss by redshirt freshman defensive end Jimmy Sandling (Manteno, Ill./University of Indianapolis/Manteno) resulted in a safety for the SXU defense at the 6:17 mark of the second quarter. Maher finished off the first-half scoring by scrambling for a 35-yard touchdown reception with 5:07 to play before halftime to give Saint Xavier a 51-14 lead at the break. With four minutes to play in the third quarter, Rizzi would find the endzone on a keeper from seven yards out and the Tigers would score on a four-yard rush by junior wideout Aaron Swart with 9:43 to play in regulation to finish off the game's scoring in the second half.

Saint Xavier (4-0 overall/2-0 MSFA) holds its annual homecoming game next weekend with a MSFA crossover game against Midwest League foe Quincy University (Ill.). The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, September 26, at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago.