CHICAGO – Recording the longest rush in school history early in the first quarter, sophomore running back Nick Pesek (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn Community) helped spark a big night for No. 1 ranked Saint Xavier University in a 37-7 win over Langston University (Okla.) in NAIA football action Saturday at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago. Pesek broke free on SXU's second play from scrimmage and put his team up 7-0 on an 85-yard touchdown run besting the previous mark of 80 yards. He finished the evening with 17 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown, while also tacking on two receptions for 44 yards and another score. With the win, the Cougars improve to 3-0 on the year, while Langston drops to 1-2.
Other key performers for Saint Xavier Saturday included senior quarterback Jimmy Coy (Park Ridge, Ill./Valdosta State/El Camino College/Maine South), senior wide receiver Shane Zackery (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) and junior linebacker Zach Dolph (Crest Hill, Ill./Joliet Catholic). Coy completed nine of his 20 pass attempts for 215 yards and three touchdowns. Zackery was his primary target making five grabs for 140 yards and two scores. Dolph proved to be a beast defensively with a game-best 14 total tackles (eight solos), including five tackles for losses with three sacks. He also recorded a forced fumble and a pass break-up.
The Cougars had the game's opening possession, but lost it quickly when senior receiver Wes Gastel (Freeport, Ill./Freeport) got picked off by senior free safety Isaiah Ross at midfield on the first play from scrimmage. The SXU defense forced a quick punt and Pesek wasted no time getting the Cougar offense back on track with his 85-yard scoring run. A forced fumble by sophomore Denzel Watts (Evergreen Park, Ill./Evergreen Park) was recovered by sophomore Greg Hayward (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn Community) in Lions territory and, four plays later, sophomore running back Joshua Hunter (South Holland, Ill./Thornridge) punched it into the end zone from seven yards out to make it, 14-0.
Trailing by two touchdowns early in the second quarter, Langston cut the deficit in half when senior quarterback Brendan Crawford found the end zone on a five-yard keeper. Junior Spencer Nolen (Columbia, Tenn./UT-Chattanooga/Columbia Central) missed a 27-yard field goal attempt to end SXU's next possession, but made up for it on his next chance, a 36-yarder with just four minutes remaining in the first half to extend the lead to 17-7. The Cougars took the 10-point advantage into halftime and quickly benefited from an interception by senior cornerback Jeremy Rhodes (Alsip, Ill./Drake University/Brother Rice) on Langston's second play of the new half. Just two plays later, Coy hit Zackery for a 52-yard touchdown strike to extend the lead to 24-7. Coy found Pesek open for a 45-yard touchdown reception later in the quarter and Zackery again early in the fourth quarter for a 32-yard score to complete the night's scoring.
Saint Xavier goes on the road to face Trinity International University (Ill.) for a Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) crossover game on Saturday September 22. The Cougars will battle the Trojans at 1 p.m. in Deerfield, Ill.
Want to see some highlights from tonight's game or check out Coach Mike Feminis' post-game interview on the player below: