Senior Mike Maher became SXU's all-time career touchdown leader with 36
Senior Mike Maher became SXU's all-time career touchdown leader with 36
University of Saint Francis (Ill.)
(4)Saint Xavier
Football - Sat, Sep. 4, 2010

CHICAGO - In a game that was postponed from Thursday night due to lightning, the No. 4 ranked Saint Xavier University football team brought some lightning of its own Saturday evening at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. The Cougars, who led by a score of 14-7 Thursday with 5:55 left in the first quarter when the game was postponed, added 38 more points to their total, while holding University of St. Francis (Ill.) to just two scores to capture a 52-21 victory in Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) crossover action Saturday. Senior wide receiver Mike Maher (Plainfield, Ill./Providence Catholic) had another brilliant night scoring four touchdowns in the game (three receiving, one kickoff return) and became SXU's all-time leader in career touchdowns with 36.

Maher finished with nine catches for 112 receiving yards and three scores and also returned a first-quarter kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Senior quarterback Anthony Kropp (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) also had a huge night completing 27 of his 43 pass attempts for 361 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 26 yards and threw one interception. Sophomore wideout Wes Gastel (Freeport, Ill./Freeport) had a solid outing for the Cougars grabbing six receptions for 96 yards and a score. Defensively, Saint Xavier was led by sophomore linebacker Mike Bushnell (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) with nine total tackles (seven solos, four assists), including an assisted tackle for a one-yard loss.

In Thursday's start, the Cougars got on the scoreboard quickly when Kropp found Gastel open on a third-and-10 play that was taken 57 yards to the end zone just 28 seconds into the game. USF would answer with a big quarterback draw play on the third play of the ensuing possession that sent freshman E.J. White in 64 yards for the game-tying touchdown. Maher returned the kickoff 85 yards to quickly put his team back ahead, 14-7, with 12:53 remaining in the first frame. After back-to-back scoreless possessions by the two teams, the game was suspended due to lightning strikes and scheduled to resume Saturday night at the point it was stopped.

The Cougars would waste no time extending their lead on Saturday evening. After forcing a punt on the opening possession for the Fighting Saints, Kropp and Maher hooked up for a 17-yard touchdown reception to make it, 21-7, with 2:45 remaining in the first quarter. Early in the second frame, White would strike again on a two-yard rush for a score to cut the lead to seven, 21-14. The USF defense would force a punt and record an interception to keep Saint Xavier from extending its lead in the first half, but would miss a 36-yard field goal wide left to stay at 14 points heading into the break.

SXU's halftime speech worked as the team came out and scored 24 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull away for good. The first score came on another Kropp-Maher connection from 26 yards out with 9:48 to play in the quarter. Junior Tom Lynch (Frankfort, Ill./Southern Illinois/Joliet JC/Lincoln-Way East) converted a 47-yard field goal followed shortly by a one-yard touchdown run by junior running back KJ Franklin (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee). Senior running back Donnie Selby (Alsip, Ill./Shepard) would close out the quarter by hauling in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Kropp. Maher would then cap the SXU scoring for the night early in the fourth quarter with a six-yard grab.

Saint Xavier (2-0 overall) continues its home stand on Saturday, September 11, with its MSFA opener against Trinity International University (Ill.). The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field.