CHICAGO - Senior wide receiver Mike Maher
(Plainfield, Ill./Providence Catholic) finished with 11 catches for 140 yards
and two touchdowns as No. 3 Saint Xavier University scored 27 unanswered
first-half points en route to a 41-10 Mid-States Football Association (MSFA)
Mideast League victory over No. 16 Walsh University (Ohio) Saturday afternoon
at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago.
The Cougars become the first college football team in the nation to
reach the 10-win mark with a perfect 10-0 record. With the pair of touchdowns, Maher tied two
SXU records on the day with most touchdown receptions in a single season (15)
and most total touchdowns in a season (18).
Senior quarterback Anthony Kropp (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) also
became the Cougars' all-time career passing leader Saturday completing 28 of
his 41 pass attempts for 333 yards and four touchdowns. Kropp now has 7,786 career yards surpassing
John Perryman (2001-05), who finished his career in the top spot with 7,775
Maher did not just impress through the air, but also racked up 34
rushing yards and 33 yards off a pair of kickoff returns. Sophomore wide-outs Wes Gastel (Freeport,
Ill./Freeport) and Corey Wennmacher (Belvidere, Ill./Belvidere North) also had
impressive outings toward SXU's winning effort.
Gastel had five catches for 70 yards, while Wennmacher caught four balls
for 64 yards and a touchdown. Senior
running back Donnie Selby (Alsip, Ill./Shepard) led the Cougars' ground attack
with nine rushes for 44 yards. The Saint
Xavier defense was anchored by sophomore linebacker Mike Bushnell (Tinley Park,
Ill./Andrew). Bushnell finished with a
game-best 16 tackles (11 solos, five assists), including a tackle for a loss.
The Cougars came out of the gate strong moving the ball 77 yards
down the field on the first drive of the game to take a 7-0 lead on a beautiful
18-yard touchdown pass by Kropp to Wennmacher.
SXU would take a 13-0 lead following an eight-yard run by junior Jimmy Sandling (Manteno, Ill./University of Indianapolis/Manteno) with 3:50 to play
in the opening quarter after a blocked extra-point attempt. Gastel would then put the Cougars up, 20-0,
on a five-yard run with 6:04 remaining before halftime. The SXU defense would force a quick
three-and-out by Walsh and the offense would capitalize again before the end of
the half with Maher capping another scoring drive on a 10-yard reception from
Kropp. Trailing 27-0 at the break, the
Cavaliers got their offense moving on the opening drive of the second half. Senior tailback Clinton Blossomgame made it,
27-7, on a one-yard plunge with 10:56 to play in the third quarter.
However, Saint Xavier answered right away with an eight-play,
60-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard touchdown reception by senior Xavier Torres (Chicago, Ill./Central Michigan University/Lane Tech). With 3:57 to play in the quarter, WU senior
kicker Eric Buchanan nailed a 43-yard field goal to make the score, 34-10. Maher connected with Kropp again on a 10-yard
strike to close out the game's scoring with 1:01 left in the third
quarter. The Cougars overcame three
first-half turnovers to claim the victory.
SXU has now scored 41 or more points in all 10 of its wins this season.
Saint Xavier (10-0 overall/6-0 MSFA) finishes up its regular season
with a big home finale against No. 7 ranked University of Saint Francis (Ind.)
on Saturday, November 6. The winner of
next weekend's game will likely win the MSFA Mideast League. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Bruce R.
Deaton Memorial Field.