The McKendree University football team used a 28-point fourth quarter to pull away for a 56-30 victory Saturday afternoon at home against Quincy University.
The Bearcats piled up a season-high 605 yards of total offense, coming up just three yards shy of a school record in notching the Great Lakes Valley Conference win on Senior Day at Leemon Field. McKendree improves to 7-2 on the season and 5-2 in GLVC play. The Bearcats will wrap up the 2015 regular season next Saturday (Nov. 14) with a road contest at Truman State University. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in Kirksville, Mo.
McKendree achieved a program-first in its win over Quincy. The Bearcats topped the 300-yard mark in both rushing and passing in the same game. McKendree had 305 yards through the air while gaining an even 300 yards on the ground against the Hawks. Quincy also had a big offensive day, putting up 504 yards of total offense as the teams combined for 1,109 yards. The Bearcats put up more 101 more yards than Quincy despite running 16 fewer plays and holding the ball for just over 21 minutes in the contest.
Senior quarterback Isaac Fisher threw for 296 yards in his final start at Leemon Field while adding a game-high 116 rushing yards for McKendree. Sophomore running back Shayeen Edwards added a career-high 110 yards on the ground while posting three rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. It is the first time since the 2010 season that the Bearcats had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same contest.
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Junior wide receiver Sean Dowling had a career-high 151 receiving yards on seven receptions. Dowling also notched the first passing touchdown of his career, throwing a nine-yard strike to Fisher on a trick play late in the third quarter.
“We got out to a fast start and really had the momentum early,” said McKendree head coach Mike Babcock. “You have to credit Quincy with slowing down the pace in the first half and grinding out some first downs while keeping us off-balance. I was proud of our guys for making the adjustments and keeping the pressure on offensively. We finished today, and that’s something we preach to our team. It was a great way to send the seniors out.”
McKendree scored on its first two possessions to build an early 14-0 lead. Junior running back Kevin Witcik opened the scoring with a one-yard touchdown run for the Bearcats following kickoff, then posted a 14-yard scoring burst for the 14-point advantage. Quincy (3-6, 3-4 GLVC) cut the deficit in half midway through the second quarter thanks to a 21-play, 82-yard scoring drive that consumed nearly 9 1/2 minutes. With McKendree facing a fourth-and-one in Quincy territory on the ensuing possession, Fisher broke free for a 31-yard TD run to extend the lead back to 14 points for the Bearcats at 21-7.
The Hawks trimmed the deficit to 21-14 in the closing seconds of the first half. Quincy then took the second-half kickoff and shaved more than eight minutes off the clock before a 28-yard field goal by Blake Allison brought the Hawks within 21-17. The offensive fireworks then started as the two teams combined to score on the next five possessions.
McKendree took the kickoff and marched to the Quincy nine-yard line, where Dowling took a pitch and appeared to be running a sweep to the left when he stopped and found Fisher alone in the right corner of the end zone for a nine-yard scoring strike. The point after stretched the Bearcats’ lead back to 28-17. The Hawks then put together another time-consuming drive, scoring on the first play of the fourth quarter to rally Quincy back within 28-24.
Four plays following the kickoff, Fisher threw a lateral to senior offensive lineman Derrik Starrett, who raced untouched for a 15-yard scoring run to help McKendree regain a 35-24 advantage. Quincy only needed one play to respond as backup quarterback Robbie Kelley threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to De’Carlos Poole with 13:18 remaining. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the Bearcats with a 35-30 lead.
Edwards helped McKendree take control from there. He scored all three of his touchdowns on the Bearcats’ final three possessions of the afternoon, posting TD runs of 14, 6 and 10 yards to enable the Bearcats to pull away for the win. McKendree kept its perfect record at Leemon Field against Quincy intact, improving to 9-0 all-time at home versus the Hawks. In addition, the Bearcats have now won 11 of their last 12 Senior Day outings.
Junior linebacker A.J. Wentland collected a game-high 16 tackles to lead the Bearcats’ defensive effort. Senior defensive back Cruz Navarro and sophomore defensive back Derrick Curry each posted 10 tackles against Quincy.