CHICAGO – Junior wide receiver Wes Gastel (Freeport, Ill./Freeport) finished with seven catches for 113 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns to help propel the No. 1 ranked Saint Xavier University football team to a big 55-30 win over Walsh University (Ohio) Saturday night at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. It was SXU's first game since receiving the NAIA's top ranking last Monday. The Cougars pulled away early in the game building a 35-7 advantage at the half. Senior quarterback Jimmy Coy (Park Ridge, Ill./Valdosta State University/El Camino College/Maine South) also had a nice night for Saint Xavier completing 25 of his 29 pass attempts for 266 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed nine times for 42 yards and had an interception.
In addition to Coy and Gastel, some of the other key offensive contributors for SXU Saturday were junior wide receiver Shane Zackery (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) and sophomore running back Nick Pesek (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn Community). Zackery finished with a team-high eight receptions for 61 yards and a score, while Pesek posted 10 carries for 28 yards and a touchdown to go along with five catches for 61 yards and a score. Defensively, the Fejedelem brothers led the way. Junior linebacker Ryan Fejedelem (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) had seven tackles, including an assisted tackle for a loss and a force fumble. Freshman strong safety Clayton Fejedelem (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) also finished with a team-leading seven stops and recorded a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Gastel got SXU on the scoreboard first when he took a Coy pass from 20 yards out to the end zone at the 7:22 mark of the opening quarter. Just over three minutes later, Coy found Zackery for a 10-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 14-0. On the third play from scrimmage of the second quarter, Pesek punched it past the goal line from five yards deep to push the lead to 21 points. Midway through the quarter, junior defensive end Jimmy Sandling (Manteno, Ill./University of Indianapolis/Manteno) would pound his way to pay dirt from one yard out to make the score, 28-0. Following another Walsh punt, Coy would quickly find junior wide-out Corey Wennmacher (Belvidere, Ill./Belvidere North) for a 13-yard completion for another score to go ahead, 35-0. The Cavaliers would take advantage of a nice kick return by sophomore defensive back Kyle Vachav to the SXU 36-yard line and get a touchdown before the end of the first half on a fumble in the end zone that was recovered by redshirt freshman tailback Justin Keith.
Leading 35-7 at the half, Saint Xavier would force a punt on Walsh's first possession of the third quarter. However, Coy had one of his passes tipped on the ensuing drive and sophomore free safety Tony Stover returned it to the SXU four-yard line. It would take the Cavaliers three plays to post their second score of the game when junior tailback Toba Olarewaju scrambled in from five yards deep. Senior defensive end Michael Prosser (Rockton, Ill./Rockton-Hononegah) blocked the extra-point attempt to make the score, 35-13. With 6:20 to play in the third quarter, Gastel would hook up with Coy again for a 23-yard strike to push the lead to 29 points at 42-13. Walsh would add a 42-yard field goal by redshirt freshman Bo Beegle late in the quarter to make it, 42-16. Sophomore quarterback Joe Gill (Munster, Ind./Western Illinois University/Munster) would hit Pesek on a 14-yard touchdown pass and senior running back Sean Bryce (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest) would score on a two-yard run for the Cougars in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 55-16. Walsh would add two more scores in the final five minutes of regulation.
Saint Xavier holds its annual Homecoming game on Saturday, September 24, with a MSFA crossover match-up against Trinity International University (Ill.). The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start.