LEBANON — The McKendree University football team snapped a four-game losing streak Saturday night with a convincing 51-16 victory at home against Quincy University.
The Bearcats posted nine plays of at least 20 yards and collected their fourth special teams touchdown of the year on its way to the Great Lakes Valley Conference victory. McKendree improves to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the GLVC.
Sophomore wide receiver Cameron James accounted for three of the four longest plays of the night for McKendree -- a 78-yard return on the opening kickoff, a 57-yard rush late in the first quarter and a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Defensively, McKendree registered a season-high five quarterback sacks and had 13 tackles for loss in the contest. Sophomore defensive lineman Brett Pearman led the way with 2 sacks against Quincy. Senior defensive back Michael Romshek had two interceptions in the effort, and senior cornerback Tirell Anderson set a new team record with seven pass break-ups against the Hawks.
"I was really impressed with our overall effort tonight," said McKendree coach Mike Babcock. "Our defense was tested early and often, and they answered the call all night long. Our defensive backs responded with some big plays, and up front we were able to get constant pressure. On offense, we got out in open spaces and created opportunities to score. Tonight marked a very good effort from the entire team."
After James' 78-yard kickoff return to start the game, McKendree needed just four plays to take a 7-0 lead. Junior running back Ryan Herring capped the short drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Sophomore quarterback Isaac Fisher pushed the margin to 14-0 on the Bearcats' next possession when he broke free for a career-long 35-yard scoring run. Fisher was 15-of-25 against Quincy for 240 yards and added three passing touchdowns against the Hawks.
Freshman Steven O'Block provided the Bearcats' only points of the second quarter on a 21-yard field goal to give McKendree a 17-point cushion. Quincy (2-7, 1-4 GLVC) posted its only points of the first half thanks to a 27-yard field goal by Bryan Watkins with 5:52 left until halftime.
Fisher connected with freshman wide receiver Girard Jenkins for his first TD pass of the night, a 23-yard strike to start the scoring for McKendree in the second half. Later in the third quarter, James took Quincy punt and raced down the right sideline 64 yards for a score to boost the McKendree advantage to 31-3.
The Bearcats picked up the pace in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 points against the Hawks. After Quincy scored in the opening moments of the period and then recovered the ensuing onside kick, Romshek notched his second interception of the night. His 18-yard return, coupled with a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Hawks, put the ball at the Quincy 27-yard line. On the next play, Fisher hooked up with junior tight end Zac Dixon for a 27-yard TD pass to give McKendree a 37-10 lead.
Later in the period, Fisher connected with senior wide receiver Nick Jones on a 12-yard scoring pass, and freshman quarterback Mitch Bartram collected his first collegiate touchdown on a one-yard keeper to cap the scoring for the Bearcats.
James rolled up 254 yards of total offense against Quincy, including a team-high 68 yards rushing on just four carries. Freshman Kevin Witcik added 49 yards on seven attempts. Junior wide receiver Dewayne Gatti had a team-high four receptions for 52 yards for the Bearcats.
Freshman defensive back Jabaree Winston led the McKendree defense with a game-high 10 tackles. Winston also had three pass break-ups. Anderson finished the night with nine tackles.
Quincy quarterback Nick Lonergan threw for 337 yards against McKendree, completing 25-of-55 pass attempts. Justin Dickens had a game-high 11 receptions for 137 yards, while De'Carlos Poole added 10 catches for 180 yards.
McKendree will play its final road game of the 2013 season Saturday at Missouri S & T. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. in Rolla, Mo.