Forest City, Iowa - Behind two touchdown grabs apiece by junior Nick DeBenedetti (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) and sophomore Austin Feeney (Morris, Ill./Morris), the No. 17 ranked Saint Xavier University football team pulled away for a 37-21 road victory over Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Midwest League opponent Waldorf College (Iowa) at Bolstorff Field Saturday afternoon in Forest City, Iowa. Fifth-year senior quarterback Joe Gill (Munster, Ind./Western Illinois/Munster) had a monster game for the Cougars completing 33 of his 51 pass attempts for 353 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. SXU got off to a great start opening up a 27-7 lead in the first quarter powered by both of DeBenedetti's scoring receptions. With the win, Saint Xavier snaps its two-game losing streak and improves to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in MSFA play.
Sophomore Joshua Hunter (South Holland, Ill./Thornridge) led the ground attack for the Cougars Saturday racking up 79 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Junior John Frederickson (Evergreen Park, Ill./Evergreen Park) and freshman Ryan Carroll (Evergreen Park, Ill./Marist) each hauled in seven receptions to lead the SXU receiving corps. Senior linebacker Zach Dolph (Crest Hill, Ill./Joliet Catholic) was a force defensively leading Saint Xavier with eight tackles (three solos) as well as recording a tackle for a loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception and two pass break-ups.
Feeney got the scoring started Saturday when he snagged a 23-yard touchdown pass from Gill less than two minutes in to cap the game's opening drive and put the Cougars ahead early, 7-0. After a Waldorf fumble, Saint Xavier marched down the field again and went up 14-0 on a 16-yard pass by Gill to DeBenedetti with 6:43 remaining in the quarter. The Warriors got a 75-yard touchdown run by junior Emmanuel Osuchukwu on their first play from scrimmage of the ensuing drive to make the score, 14-7, just seconds later. Hunter punched it into the end zone from one yard deep two minutes later to cap another scoring drive for the Cougars extending the lead to 21-7. An interception by senior Jacob Ghinazzi (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) ended Waldorf's next drive and set up a 60-yard touchdown reception by DeBenedetti on SXU's first play after the turnover. Unfortunately, the extra-point attempt failed making the score, 27-7, to finish out the first quarter.
Neither team got anything going offensively in the second quarter and the score remained the same heading into halftime. On Saint Xavier's second drive of the second half, senior Spencer Nolen (Columbia, Tenn./Nevada/UT-Chattanooga/Columbia Central) split the uprights on a 37-yard field goal attempt to push the lead to 30-7 at the 8:09 mark of the third quarter. Again, the Warriors answered the score with a one-play drive when senior Oscar Robles hit senior James Loydd for a 65-yard touchdown pass to make the score, 30-14. Later in the frame, Gill hooked up again with Feeney on an 11-yard touchdown strike to wrap up SXU's scoring for the day. Waldorf responded with a big play again, but this time needed two plays to complete the drive when Robles found junior Lashawn Chapman open for a 69-yard score. The defenses stiffened up in the fourth quarter with both teams kept off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
Saint Xavier (4-3 overall/1-1 MSFA) returns home to host MSFA Midwest League foe William Penn University (Iowa) on Saturday, October 26. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago.