Senior Mike Maher had a big day receiving for the Cougars Saturday
Senior Mike Maher had a big day receiving for the Cougars Saturday
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(3) Saint Xavier
(16) Walsh University (Ohio)
Football - Sat, Oct. 30, 2010

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 passing yards.

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.