FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – On Saturday afternoon the No. 25 University of Saint Francis Cougars (1-2; 0-1 MSFA) kicked off their home opener against the Siena Heights University Saints (2-2; 1-0 MSFA) but didn’t have enough to get through as they fell 27-17 with the Saints capitalizing on a strong third quarter.
As the game got underway, the Saints produced a strong drive but it was to no avail as they missed a 41-yard field goal.
After a short series on offense from the Cougars, they got the ball right back on an interception by sophomore defensive back Bailey Parker. After four plays the Cougars took a 3-0 lead on a 33-yard field goal by Aidan Hosler.
The first quarter ended with the Cougars holding their three-point lead, but the Saints had momentum and the ball in Cougar territory. The defense though did step up with a couple key tackles by River Walsh and Damon Hunter, forcing the Saints to settle for a 44-yard field goal, which split the uprights and tied the game at three.
For the next several drives, both defenses stepped up to make stops, and no more scoring was done until the final three minutes of the half. The Saints capped off their fourth drive of the frame with a 43-yard field goal to go up 6-3 for the first time.
But right after the kickoff, the Cougars answered right back.
Six consecutive completions by junior quarterback Heath Simmons brought the Cougars to the one-yard line, and what followed was a rushing touchdown by junior running back Cameron Peterson for the game’s first touchdown to cap off the first half.
Heading into halftime, the Cougars held a 10-6 lead over Siena Heights.
But in the third quarter, the tables turned against the Cougars. After Saint Francis failed to score on the opening drive of the frame, the Saints enjoyed a 10-play drive which resulted in a 14-yard touchdown pass with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
After the Cougars went three and out, the Saints carried their momentum over to the next drive taking just three plays to find the endzone again and double their lead over Saint Francis.
Siena Heights scored 14 unanswered points in the third quarter to lead 20-10 heading into the final frame.
However, halfway through the fourth quarter, the Cougars forced a stop, and what followed was a blocked punt by junior linebacker River Walsh who then ran it back for a defensive touchdown and all of a sudden, Saint Francis was right back in the game, now trailing just 20-17.
But the last laugh belonged to the Saints as they scored once more and let the clock wind down for a 10-point victory.
Throughout the game, River Walsh was the lead-tackler with 13 on the game and Emmanuel Davis followed suit with nine tackles of his own. Defensive end Alfred Moore made eight tackles, and four of them went for a loss for an accumulated 14 yards. Simmons threw for 211 yards completing 23 passes in 40 attempts.
The Cougars resume play next Saturday afternoon when they play host to the Madonna University Crusaders (1-4) at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium beginning at 12:00 pm. In addition, Saturday will also be USF’s homecoming game.