(LEBANON, Ill., Oct. 28)—The McKendree University football team picked up its second straight Great Lakes Valley Conference win Saturday afternoon with a 36-12 victory over Lincoln University on a cold and blustery day at Leemon Field.
Senior Shayeen Edwards (East St. Louis, IL/Cahokia) rushed for a team-leading 118 yards on 19 carries while junior quarterback Reece Metcalf (Mount Carmel, IL/Mount Carmel) threw three touchdown passes for the second game in a row as the Bearcats improved to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in conference play. McKendree also registered its sixth defensive touchdown of the year thanks to a 61-yard fumble return by senior defensive end Tobias Cook (Chicago, IL/Westinghouse College Prep) in the second quarter.
“I give a lot of credit to Lincoln because of the way they came at us today,” said McKendree head coach Mike Babcock. “They were able to pick up some key first downs and sustain drives, but I think our guys showed they could finish today. We forced Lincoln into some turnovers in or near the red zone, and we were able to put up another defensive score today. I thought we did a nice job of taking our shots when we could and come up with the big play.”
Junior wide receiver Josh Revay (Livermore, CAl) had a big day as well for McKendree with five receptions for 125 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter that helped put the game away for the Bearcats. Revay’s 125 receiving yards are the most for any McKendree receiver this season, and his 69-yard TD score marks the longest offensive play from scrimmage for the team in 2017.
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Senior wide receiver Derrick Curry (Glen Ellyn, IL/Montini Catholic) fielded the opening kickoff and raced 62 yards down the left sideline to the Lincoln 29-yard line. Five plays later, Metcalf connected with junior wide receiver Jalyn Williams (Carbondale, IL/Carbondale) on a six-yard touchdown pass just 2:07 into the contest. Freshman kicker Josh Lazaro (Bradley, IL/Bradley Bourbonnais) added the extra point to give the Bearcats an early 7-0 advantage. Lazaro stretched the McKendree lead to 10-0 on the Bearcats’ first drive of the second quarter when he drilled a career-long 41-yard field goal.
Later in the second period, the Bearcats took possession at the Lincoln 31-yard line. Metcalf and Williams then teamed up on back-to-back passes to give McKendree a 16-point lead. First, Williams made a diving catch at the Blue Tigers’ 10-yard line to set up first-and-goal for the Bearcats. On the next play, Metcalf found Williams over the middle on a 10-yard TD strike with 4:31 left until halftime.
On the ensuing drive, Lincoln (1-7, 0-5 GLVC) marked to the Bearcats’ 27-yard line. Senior linebacker Austin Weltha (Bloomington, IL/Bloomington) stripped quarterback Drake Davidson on a second-down play, and Cook was able to scoop up the loose ball and ramble 61 yards for a touchdown to push the McKendree advantage to 23-0 with 1:40 remaining until the intermission. It was Cook’s second defensive touchdown of 2017, with the other coming on a 47-yard interception return back on Sept. 9 against Kentucky State University.
Lincoln broke up the Bearcats’ shutout bid midway through the third quarter on a two-yard touchdown run by Miles Drummond to pull within 23-6. McKendree answered on its next drive when Edwards broke free for a 46-yard run down to the Blue Tigers’ four-yard line, then burst into the end zone from three yards out with 6:33 left in the period.
Revay then provided the longest play of the afternoon on the Bearcats’ final touchdown of the contest. With McKendree facing a third-and-three at the Lincoln 31-yard line, Revay caught a wide receiver screen and outraced the secondary for a 69-yard touchdown with 13:14 to play. Lazaro’s point after stretched the McKendree lead to 39-6. Lincoln scored the final points of the day on a 47-yard fumble return by Cody Alexander.
Weltha reached double figures in tackles for the third straight game as he led McKendree with 14 stops. Sophomore Michael Tucker (Chicago, IL/North Lawndale College Prep) added a career-best 12 tackles, while senior linebacker Kyle Kirkpatrick (Bethalto, IL/Civic Memorial) finished the day with eight tackles. In addition to his 61-yard fumble return, Cook registered the Bearcats’ lone quarterback sack of the day.
For Lincoln, Travis Martin rushed for a game-high 123 yards on 22 carries, while Davidson completed 19-of-25 pass attempts for 74 yards.
McKendree will close out the home portion of its 2017 schedule next Saturday (Nov. 4) with another GLVC contest against Quincy University. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. Prior to the game, McKendree will honor its seniors appearing in their final contest at Leemon Field.