Football - Sat, Sep. 3, 2005
CHICAGO - Paced by senior quarterback John Perryman (Oak Lawn, Ill./Richards), the No. 17 ranked Saint Xavier University football team kicked off its 2005 season on the right foot with an impressive 21-7 victory over No. 8 Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU) Saturday at SXU Stadium in Chicago. Perryman completed 26 of his 31 pass attempts in the game for 218 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

"This was a quality win for us over a quality football program," said Saint Xavier University head football coach Mike Feminis. "Our coaching staff has preached throughout the preseason that it is time for our team to take it to the next level and this win shows that we are a top-10 team at the NAIA level."

In addition to Perryman, several other Cougar players had outstanding individual performances in Saturday's win. Senior wide receiver Jarrod Nowman (Manteno, Ill./Bishop McNamara) finished the day with nine catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, while junior wide-out Andy Ricca (LaPorte, Ind./Michigan City) turned in 11 catches for 103 yards and a score. Freshman transfer running back Jason Banning (Wilmington, Ill./Northern Illinois University) led SXU on the ground with 34 yards on 11 carries.

Following a scoreless first quarter, Saint Xavier started its first drive of the second frame deep in NWOSU territory when Nowman returned a short punt 11 yards to the Rangers' 26-yard line. The SXU offense needed just three plays to get into the endzone for the game's first score when Perryman connected with Nowman for a 15-yard pass on the right sideline with 13:50 remaining in the first half.

Later in the second quarter, the Rangers drove to the SXU 15-yard line and looked poised to put some points on the scoreboard, but a forced fumble and recovery by freshman defensive tackle Andrew Kolodziej (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) gave Saint Xavier the ball back with just over eight minutes remaining in the half. Clinging to a 7-0 half-time advantage, the Cougars recorded a big interception by junior defensive back Rocky Angone (Oak Lawn, Ill./Mount Carmel) on NWOSU's first play from scrimmage of the second half.

With 6:05 remaining in the third quarter, the Rangers missed a 37-yard field goal attempt and Saint Xavier was able to capitalize on the ensuing drive going 80 yards in five plays to take a 14-0 lead. A 42-yard pass to Ricca from Perryman capped the scoring drive. However, the Rangers needed just two plays following the Ricca touchdown to narrow the Saint Xavier lead, 14-7, when sophomore quarterback DeMarko Jones found sophomore wide-out Sedgwyn Thigpen for a 59-yard strike.

In the fourth quarter, Perryman connected with Nowman for a spectacular 27-yard diving catch on a 4th-and-3 situation on the Cougars' 37-yard line to keep the SXU drive alive. On the very next play, Perryman found junior wide receiver Greg Gerritsen (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) in the back of the endzone for the game's final score. An interception by senior linebacker Steve Runyon (Hammond, Ind./Gavit) at the Saint Xavier two-yard line with 8:03 remaining in the game sealed NWOSU's fate, as the Cougars were able to run out the clock in the final drive.

SXU (1-0 overall) heads to Whitewater, Wisc., on Saturday, September 10, to face NCAA Division III powerhouse University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Game time is set for 6 p.m.