EDWARDSVILLE – It was almost two years ago to the day that quarterback Alex George began his collegiate career at Wilkes with a tremendous come-from-behind victory to help coach Frank Sheptock become the school's all-time winningest coach.
On Saturday, George was at it again to help his coach reach a milestone.
With the Colonels trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter, George orchestrated three touchdown drives in the game's final 11 minutes, the Wilkes defense stiffened and the Colonels pulled out a 37-27 win over FDU-Florham as Sheptock earned career win No. 100.
The Wilkes (2-2, 1-2 MAC) offense also set a high, piling up a school-record 667 yards. The win came after the Colonels gave up 90 points in a loss to Widener last week.
Sheptock was humbled by the victory and said that what made the win satisfying is all the support he got from former players and coaches, current coaches of other programs and others that he has met throughout the years who reached out to him after the bad loss a week ago.
"The 100 thing I'm very proud of but I'm more proud of the support I received leading up to this," Sheptock said. "Anyone can call and say ‘congratulations on your 100th win.' But when you're coming off the toughest day that you've ever had as a coach, and people are reaching out to you then, that's when you know you got something special."
Unlike the game in 2010 when George had a hand in the last four touchdowns to overcome a 22-point deficit in the final 15 minutes, he had plenty of support this time around in the fourth quarter. With the Devils (1-3, 1-2 MAC) holding a 27-17 advantage and time running out in the fourth, all the junior QB had to do was hand the ball off to Calvin Garvin or Andrew Regan or just keep it himself. Garvin pulled the score to within 27-24 with a 14-yard dash to the end zone and 11:09 left on the clock.
The Devils offense continued to put pressure on Wilkes, driving 49 yards on their next possession, but Wilkes' defense started to make a stand. Linebacker Tate Moore-Jacobs forced and recovered a fumble to get the ball back in George's hands.
When the Colonels regained possession, Garvin had two big runs and Regan capped the seven-play, 78-yard drive with a 2-yard TD to put the Colonels in front 31-27.
Again, Wilkes' defense made a stand as Paul Gaffney picked off a pass to get the ball back.
This time on offense, George completed a short pass to Justin Pellowski and let the sophomore playmaker do all the work, as he dragged a defender nearly 20 yards into the end zone on the 46-yard scoring strike to give the Colonels a 10-point lead.
"This junior and senior class, we've come back before. We knew we could do it," George said. "When I look back at my college career and see things I did for coach Sheptock … for our junior and senior class, to be able to be there for Coach Shep during those great moments is something."
FDU tried one more time to get moving, but quarterback Mike Santos, who was pressured the entire game freshman linebacker Jason Ugwu, was brought down by Ugwu for the second time in the game to secure the victory.
After allowing 90 points the week before, the Colonels did allow 440 total yards, but the players stepped up when needed. Moore-Jacobs tallied a team-high 10 tackles, Ty Cunningham added an interception, and Ugwu and Michael Paskas each had three tackles for loss.
"We showed the ability to stop a team in the fourth quarter and that really gave us great momentum," Sheptock added. "I think if we limit the big plays we're giving up, we can be pretty good on defense. But we have to stop those long ones."
Garvin, a 5-foot-6, 154-pound junior that has seen limited playing time, racked up a game-high 162 yards on the ground on just 16 touches and a pair of TDs. George finished the game completing 12 of 23 passes for 232 yards and ran for 89.
The Pride rallied from a 37-21 deficit with 5:44 left in the fourth quarter, scoring the game's final 19 points to pull out the victory.
Quarterback Chris Haupt was picked off three times and passed for 257 yards and one touchdown, but the score started the comeback.
Lebanon Valley signal-caller Leo Kyte had a big game, throwing for 395 yards and two touchdowns.
Wilkes 37, FDU-Florham 27
WILKES – Jonathon Conklin 66 pass from Alex George (Frank Bobo kick), 13:15
WILKES – Calvin Garvin 14 run (Bobo kick), 14:03
FDU – Craig Kimbrough 12 pass from Mike Santos (Travis Mullen kick), 9:30
WILKES – Jordan Fredo 32 field goal, 4:46
FDU – Jon Bennett 20 pass from Santos (kick blocked), 2:45
FDU – Bennett 2 run (Mullen kick), 9:31
FDU – Bennett 62 pass from Santos (Mullen kick), 7:17
WILKES – Garvin 14 run (Fredo kick), 11:09
WILKES – Andrew Regan 2 run (Fredo kick), 5:55
WILKES – Justin Pellowski 46 pass from George (run failed), 4:26
|Sacks by-Yards Lost||1-12||2-15|
RUSHING – FDU, Craig Kimbrough 9-61, Anthony Fruncillo 6-32, Jon Bennett 7-15, Mike Santos 5-(minus-5). WILKES, Calvin Garvin 16-162, Alex George 14-89, Auxence Wogou 20-84, Justin Pellowski 3-54, Andrew Regan 8-40, Patrick Inguilli 1-10, TEAM 2-(minus-4).
PASSING – FDU, Mike Santos 24-36-2-337. WILKES, Alex George 12-23-0-232, TEAM 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING – FDU, Jon Bennett 10-135, Anthony Fruncillo 6-129, Craig Kimbrough 3-23, James Ognibene 2-24, Bryan Soletto 2-18, Dan Hamilton 1-8. WILKES, Jonathan Conklin 5-114, Tim Bousson 2-30, Payton Bachman 2-6, Justin Pellowski 1-46, Dan Curry 1-31, Auxence Wogou 1-5.
INTERCEPTIONS – WILKES, Ty Cunningham, Paul Gaffney
MISSED FIELD GOALS – WILKES, Bobo (32 WL), Fredo (35, blk)