Football - Sat, Oct. 4, 2008
CHICAGO - For the third straight week, the Saint Xavier University defense came up big nearly posting a shutout in a 23-7 homecoming victory over visiting Walsh University (Ohio) in the Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Mideast League opener for both teams Saturday at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. The lone touchdown for the Cavaliers came on a fourth down play with just three seconds remaining in regulation. SXU opponents have posted a combined 10 points over the last three games, including Trinity International University (Ill.) failing to score in a 56-0 loss last Saturday. The Cougars improve to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the MSFA, while Walsh falls to 1-4 on the year and 0-1 in the league standings.

Senior quarterback Jeremy Zientek (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) led the Saint Xavier offense Saturday by completing 34 of his 49 pass attempts for 323 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed six times for a team-best 15 yards on the ground. Junior wide receiver Bill McKeon (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) had a solid all-around game leading the receiving corps with 12 catches for 67 yards, while also rushing four times for 11 yards and a touchdown. He also served as the punter booting six punts for 219 yards, an average of 36.5 yards per attempt. Defensively, junior linebacker Mike Lally (Oak Lawn, Ill./St. Rita) had a monster performance racking up a game-high 14 tackles (11 solos, three assists), including 3.5 tackles for losses and two sacks.

Saint Xavier got some momentum very early in the ballgame when it took its opening drive 72 yards on three plays for a 36-yard touchdown completion by junior wideout Matt McGinnis (Chicago, Ill./Brother Rice) just a minute and 18 seconds into the game. However, freshman defensive back Jamaal Ballard blocked the ensuing extra-point attempt giving the Cougars an early 6-0 advantage. Turnovers haunted SXU in the first half with two fumbles and an interception halting big offensive drives. However, a 20-yard field goal by freshman kicker A.J. Nichols (Tinley Park, Ill./Mount Carmel) with 4:57 to play in the first half gave Saint Xavier a two-possession lead, 9-0, which it took into the locker room at halftime.

Neither team could get its offense rolling in the third quarter and the score remained the same heading into the final frame. The Cougars were able to get a drive started late in the third quarter and punched it into the endzone on a 14-yard touchdown pass by Zientek to sophomore wide receiver Xavier Torres (Chicago, Ill./Central Michigan/Lane Tech) that capped an 11-play, 71-yard drive. Leading 16-0, SXU added to its lead midway through the quarter on a one-yard run by McKeon with 7:09 to play in regulation. With 1:36 remaining, Walsh got the ball back and used nine plays to go 57 yards for a meaningless touchdown on a four-yard completion by junior wideout Matt McGill with three seconds on the clock. The Cougar defense held the Cavaliers to just 152 yards of total offense with 57 of those yards coming on the game's final drive.

Saint Xavier (3-2 overall/1-0 MSFA) heads to Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, October 11, to take on No. 8 ranked Ohio Dominican University (Ohio). The MSFA Mideast League match-up is scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. (central time) start at Panther Field in Columbus.