Deerfield, Ill. – Forced into action after senior quarterback Jimmy Coy (Park Ridge, Ill./Valdosta State/El Camino College/Maine South) went down and did not return during Saint Xavier University's first offensive drive, junior Joe Gill (Munster, Ind./Western Illinois/Munster) made the most of the opportunity throwing for 362 yards and four touchdowns (one rushing) in a 36-26 road win over Trinity International University (Ill.) on a windy Saturday afternoon at Leslie Frazier Field in Deerfield, Ill. Coy suffered a hard hit that drew a "roughing the passer" penalty on one of the first plays of the game. Gill came in to finish the drive and the rest of the game completing 22 of his 37 pass attempts and helping lead five touchdown drives, all in the first half. With the win, SXU stays perfect on the year with a 4-0 record following the Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) crossover game against the Trojans.
Junior running back Nick Pesek (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn Community) was also productive on the day for the Cougars rushing for 81 yards on 15 carries and posting six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Senior Chase Catton (Washington, Ill./Washington) led the Saint Xavier receiving corps with seven catches for 109 yards as well and a score. Sophomore tailback Joshua Hunter (South Holland, Ill./Thornridge) also ran well in Saturday's victory recording 14 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown. Junior linebacker Zach Dolph (Crest Hill, Ill./Joliet Catholic) had another solid day defensively for the Cougars leading the way with 12 total tackles (10 solos), including 1.5 tackles for losses and a half sack.
After Coy left during the game's opening drive, Gill completed his first two passes with the second one going for a 37-yard touchdown strike to Pesek just over a minute into play. Leading 6-0 after the missed extra-point attempt, the SXU defense got a quick stop and the offense marched down the field again scoring on a keeper by Gill from four yards deep. Another missed extra-point attempt gave the Cougars a 12-0 advantage less than five minutes into the game. However, a short punt to end Saint Xavier's next drive gave the Trojans excellent field position and the home team capitalized with a 33-yard drive to the end zone to make it 12-6 after a blocked extra-point try. Freshman running back Chris Elliott scored the touchdown on a two-yard rush.
Following a missed 31-yard field goal by TIU early in the second quarter, Saint Xavier took control of the game scoring on three straight possessions to build a 33-6 lead. Hunter scored the first touchdown on a five-yard run with 12:18 to play in the first half. Gill then hit senior Shane Zackery (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) for a 29-yard reception for the second score with just under nine minutes remaining in the frame. Catton capped the scoring surge by hauling in a 40-yard pass by Gill with a diving catch to make it 33-6 with 3:08 left in the half. A 17-yard run by junior Stephen Lockhart made the score, 33-12, after the Trojans failed the two-point conversion attempt, but junior Spencer Nolen (Columbia, Tenn./UT-Chattanooga/Columbia Central) got some of the points back when he drilled a 48-yard field goal as time expired to make the halftime score, 36-12. After a scoreless third quarter, TIU scored two late touchdowns in the final eight minutes of play to cap the scoring at 36-26.
Saint Xavier (4-0 overall) returns to Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago next Saturday for its annual Homecoming game. The Cougars take on MSFA Mideast League rival University of Saint Francis (Ind.) with kickoff slated for 6 p.m.