College Sports

McKendree University gets back on track with Great Lakes Valley Conference win at Quincy

The McKendree University Beacats defeated the Quincy University Hawks 48-14 Saturday in a Great Lakes Valley Conference football game in Quincy, Ill.

The Bearcats erupted for 35 points in the final 30 minutes of play in rolling to the win in the Great Lakes Valley Conference opener for both programs. McKendree snapped a two-game winless streak to move to 3-2 on the year and 1-0 in the GLVC. The Bearcats will host Truman State University on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Leemon Field in Lebanon.

Senior quarterback Reece Metcalf (Mount Carmel, Ill./Mount Carmel) threw for over 300 yards to lead a McKendree offense that piled up 548 yards of total offense. Metcalf connected on 22-of-28 pass attempts for 323 yards with three touchdowns and also added a one-yard scoring run during the Bearcats’ 21-point outburst in the third quarter.

Senior wide receiver Jalyn Williams (Carbondale, Ill./Carbondale) set a new career-high with eight catches at Quincy for 121 yards and a pair of touchdown grabs. Sophomore running back Jerrico Johnson (Matteson, Ill./Bishop McNamara) ran for a team-leading 82 yards – all in the fourth quarter – on nine carries, while sophomore running back Jace Franklin (Sherman, Ill./Williamsville) posted 65 yards on 13 attempts with a scoring run.

“You could feel the energy on the sidelines from the opening kickoff,” said McKendree head football coach Mike Babcock. “I was really pleased to see how fast our defense played throughout the game. We had an early interception, and the rest of the guys seemed to feed off that momentum. Offensively we continued to spread the ball and used many different weapons tonight. This was a complete team effort tonight.”

Sophomore kicker Josh Lazaro (Bradley, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) booted a pair of first-quarter field goals to stake McKendree to an early 6-0 lead.

Metcalf helped extend the Bearcats’ advantage to 13-0 with 4:42 remaining until halftime when he threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Williams. McKendree held a 13-point lead at the intermission as the defensive unit limited Quincy to just 112 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes of action.

McKendree took the second-half kickoff and marched 74 yards in five plays to grab a 20-0 lead. Metcalf hooked up with Williams on a three-yard scoring strike at the 12:57 mark of the third quarter to spark a run of five consecutive scoring possessions for the Bearcats. Franklin added a seven-yard TD burst before Metcalf’s one-yard quarterback keeper extended McKendree’s lead to 34-0 heading into the fourth quarter.

Quincy broke up the Bearcats’ shutout bid in the opening minute of the fourth quarter when McKendree posted its final two touchdowns of the contest. First, sophomore tight end Jace Kennedy (Dwight, Ill./Dwight) caught a pass from Metcalf at the Hawks’ 10-yard line and broke two tackles on his way to a 29-yard touchdown reception with 12:37 to play. Then with just under eight minutes remaining, freshman quarterback Antonio Triplett (Florissant, Mo./Hazelwood Central) notched his first collegiate touchdown on a one-yard run that gave the Bearcats a 48-7 advantage.

Junior defensive back Blake Benoist (O’Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt West) led the charge for McKendree with seven tackles. In addition to his forced fumble, Purnell finished with six tackles, while junior linebacker Kennith Wilson (Chicago, Ill./Simeon) and Ricco Gipson, Jr.,(Godfrey, Ill./Alton) each added five stops.. Junior defensive back Jason Bennett (Peoria, Ill./Peoria) had an interception on Quincy’s first drive of the night that helped lead to Lazaro’s first field goal.

Notes: Metcalf pushed his season total to 20 touchdown passes by throwing three against Quincy. The Bearcats’ single-season record is 21, which was set by Isaac Fisher in 2015. Metcalf extended his program record for most TD passes at the start of the season without an interception.

Metcalf became just the third quarterback in McKendree history to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a career during Saturday’s victory. With his 323 yards at Quincy, Metcalf pushed his career total to 4,032 yards. He joins brothers Isaac (8.508) and Austin Fisher (4,332) in the 4,000-yard club for the Bearcats.

Williams became the seventh McKendree receiver in program history to collect 1,000 career receiving yards. With his 121 yards against the Hawks, Williams now has 1,084 receiving yards in his four seasons at McKendree.