Football - Sat, Sep. 8, 2007
Joliet, Ill. - Led by dominating offensive performances from junior transfers Jason Banning (Wilmington, Ill./Northern Illinois) and Billy Yeo (Matteson, Ill./Western Michigan), the No. 5 ranked Saint Xavier University football team picked up a 52-8 victory over University of St. Francis (Ill.) in Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) crossover action Saturday night at Memorial Stadium in Joliet, Ill. Banning, the Cougars' starting running back, rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns in the winning effort; while Yeo, the team's starting quarterback, completed 13 of his 15 pass attempts for 168 yards and two touchdowns in addition to rushing six times for 40 yards and a score.

SXU piled up 424 yards of total offense in the game and the defense also played well limiting the Fighting Saints to 169 total yards, including just 43 yards through the air. The Cougars dominated on both sides of the ball through the first three quarters leading 45-0 heading into the final 15 minutes of play. In addition to Banning and Yeo, several other Saint Xavier players had stellar individual outings. Senior Shane Longest (Wilmington, Ill./Wilmington) handled all kicking duties for SXU and made his only field goal attempt of 33 yards as well as converting all seven of his extra-point tries. Longest also averaged 45 yards a punt on his four punt attempts. Junior linebacker Joe Miller (Chicago, Ill./Gordon Tech) finished with a team-high tying nine tackles, including a sack. Freshman wide receiver Mike Maher (Plainfield, Ill./Providence Catholic) did a little bit of everything catching two balls for 50 yards and a score, while also returning three punts for 26 yards and a kickoff for 30 yards.

At the 11:16 mark of the first quarter, Yeo was able to scramble into the endzone from eight yards out for Saint Xavier's first touchdown. With 11:13 remaining in the second quarter, Yeo found Maher open on a slant and Maher was able to weave his way through defenders for a 39-yard touchdown reception. Leading 14-0, the Cougars struck again just over three minutes later when Banning punched it in from two yards deep after scampering 33 yards down the field on the previous play to set up the score. Saint Xavier continued to extend its lead in the second quarter when Yeo found redshirt freshman wide receiver Xavier Torres (Chicago, Ill./Central Michigan) open in the endzone from six yards out with 1:19 left to play in the first half. Longest gave the Cougars a 31-0 halftime advantage when he split the uprights on his 33-yard attempt as time expired in the half.

The third quarter proved to be more of the same as Banning broke free for a 45-yard touchdown run just under four minutes into the second half. The defense then decided to get into the scoring surge as sophomore linebacker Mike Lally (Oak Lawn, Ill./St. Rita) intercepted USF sophomore starter Mike Ladd and returned it 27 yards to paydirt. The Fighting Saints were able to tack on their lone touchdown of the game with 12:10 to play in the game when Longest bobbled a punt attempt deep in USF territory and sophomore wideout Ponce Palmer returned the resulting fumble 21 yards for the score. The Saints were also able to convert on the ensuing two-point conversion. SXU wrapped up the game's scoring late in the fourth quarter when freshman running back Drew Rogowski (Griffith, Ind./Griffith) found a hole and ran it in 22 yards for the touchdown to make the final score, 52-8.

Saint Xavier (2-0 overall) hosts its first home game of the 2007 season next Saturday when Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) comes to Chicago for another MSFA crossover match-up. The game will also mark just the second ever night game at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field with the game scheduled for a 6 p.m. start.