DALLAS TWP. — It was only seven years ago when the Misericordia football team was the newcomer in the MAC and had trouble for the first few years.
On Saturday afternoon, the Cougars welcomed Alvernia, a first-year program, to Mangelsdorf Field. But unlike Misericordia’s first year, the Golden Wolves entered Saturday with one win under their belts already.
Looking much more seasoned than the Cougars did in their first year, Alvernia gave Misericordia a scare. It took a fourth-quarter comeback for the Cougars to avoid the upset by scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat Alvernia 45-33.
“Bottom line is that in the face of adversity they showed resilience and they found ways to make plays when we needed them,” Cougars coach Mark Ross said. “I think it’s a credit to those guys.”
The win gives Misericordia (4-1 overall, 3-0 MAC) its fourth straight victory and keeps the team atop the MAC standings with a mark of 3-0 to tie with Delaware Valley. During the streak, the Cougars have averaged 45 points a game as they lead the conference in scoring, total offense and rushing offense.
“It’s been fun. We’re just trying to enjoy one week at a time,” Ross said. “Listen, are we the best team in the league or the state? I don’t know. But we don’t need to be. We just need to be the best team on the field this particular day. And the scoreboard says we were. That’s all we’re trying to do. We play somebody to try to be the best team that day and go from there.”
It wasn’t pretty early on Saturday for Misericordia, as it had two gaffes on special teams with muffed punt returns that Alvernia recovered, and allowed huge running plays to Golden Wolves’ freshman running back Malcolm Carey, who gashed the defense for 230 yards and five touchdowns. The Cougars also gave up three first downs on penalties, including one on a fourth down that would have been a punt.
Carey’s fourth touchdown run came on a 63-yard run up the middle and put the Cougars in their largest deficit of the game, 27-16 just 14 seconds into the second half.
“I thought we got punched in the face a little bit and we didn’t respond real well. They hit the big run to open the half and then after that I thought we started to settle in,” Ross added. “They started to make some plays and guys started to get some confidence. It helps when the offense starts moving the ball again.”
After that run by Carey, the defense tightened, forcing three punts the rest of the way and grabbing an interception.
A defensive stand is what the offense led by QB Brady Williams needed to get going. Williams orchestrated four scoring drives on the team’s last five possessions of the game. He ran for two of those touchdowns, while leading the team with 148 yards on the ground.
“I think right now one of the things we’re doing a good job of is if we’re not playing well defensively, the offense is able to pick it up,” Ross said. “Units are picking each other up when the other is having an off day.”
Perhaps the biggest play of the game for the Cougars came when Alvernia (1-4, 0-4) lined up to punt in the fourth quarter while leading 33-31. But a bad snap sailed, giving Misericordia great field position. Six plays later, a 1-yard TD run by Williams put the team in front 39-33 with 9:36 to go.
Misericordia travels to Annville next week to face winless Lebanon Valley, which is 0-3 in the MAC and 0-5 overall.
Wilkes 47, Albright 43
Jose Tabora fired his school-record sixth touchdown pass of the day, hitting former Berwick standout Jeff Steeber from 25 yards out with 11 seconds remaining to rally Wilkes to a dramatic victory over Albright at Schmidt Stadium.
Tabora threw for 368 yards and hit 28 of his 47 passes while rushing for a game-high 111 yards on 22 carries as Wilkes evened its record at 3-3.
His six touchdown strikes broke the previous mark of four throwing scores set by Boo Perry, Neil Rhine, Jeff Marshman and most recently Al Karaffa in 2006.
Just before the winning play, Albright’s Jimmy Lahay threw his fifth touchdown pass of the day, hitting Kyle Dickerson on a post route to give the Lions a 43-40 lead with 1:41 left in the game.
From there, Wilkes began its game-winning drive with Tabora using his legs and arm to march the Colonels down the field.
Tabora rushed for 15 yards before a pass interference penalty negated an interception, setting up the Colonels at the Albright 45. On a third and ten play with under 30 seconds remaining. Tabora scrambled for time before finding Jordan Jones for a 20-yard gain to keep the drive alive.
One play later, Tabora connected with Steeber for the game-winning fade route, as the senior receiver from Shickshinny hauled in his career-high third touchdown catch of the game with 11 seconds on the clock.
Steeber led an active and productive receiving corps for Wilkes, hauling in seven catches for 100 yards and going over the 1,000-yard mark for his career in the process. Nick Yanik followed with six catches for 127 yards and one score while Derek Nelson made six receptions for 74 yards and one score.
Lahay led the Albright offense with 385 yards passing (29-of-42) and five touchdowns. Zach Miller made a game-high 11 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns for the Lions, while Dickerson finished with seven receptions for 104 yards and two scores.
Widener 41, King’s 25
The Monarchs fumbled on the second play of the game and Widener quickly cashed in, the first of four first-quarter scores by the Pride that set the tone for the game.
Widener staked out to a 24-3 lead after one quarter at McCarthy Stadium and led 31-10 at halftime and 41-10 after three quarters before King’s found the end zone twice in the fourth.
Quarterback Tommy Klock led the offense for King’s (2-3, 1-2 MAC), which outgained Widener 474-326 on the afternoon.
Klock finished 21-for-33 passing for 229 yards passing with three touchdowns and an interception. He added another 116 yards on the ground.
Devin Ringler (21 yards), Tim Costantino (10) and Titus Nelson (9) hauled in the touchdowns for the Monarchs.
Widener (3-3, 3-1) got three touchdown passes from Mitchell Vierling in the win.
Misericordia 45, Alvernia 33
Alvernia`13`7`13`0 — 33
Misericordia `13`3`15`14 — 45
MIS – Cromwell 5 run (kick failed) 10:32
ALV – Carey 8 run (Strausser kick) 9:34
MIS – Vleck 1 run (Dinnocenti kick) 7:09
ALV – Carey 3 run (kick failed) 3:51
MIS – Dinnocenti 29 field goal 4:10
ALV – Carey 2 run (Strausser kick) :50
ALV – Carey 63 run (Strausser kick) 14:46
MIS – Vleck 1 run (I. Williams pass from B. Williams) 4:56
ALV – Carey 1 run (kick failed) 2:34
MIS – B. Williams 1 run (Berger kick) 1:26
MIS – B. Williams 1 run (B. Williams run) 9:36
MIS – Cromwell 2 run (run failed) 1:44
Sacks by-yards lost`0-0`4-17
PASSING – ALV, Black 10-21-176-1. MIS, B. Williams 11-19-184-1.
RUSHING— ALV, Carey 31-230, Black 11-15, Scurlock 1-6, Scott 4-5, Mathis 1-3, Berry 1-(minus-1), TEAM 1-(minus-36). MIS, B. Williams 17-148, Cromwell 12-102, Vleck 11-78, Dallas 4-27, TEAM 3-(minus-9).
RECEIVING— ALV, Scurlock 4-65, Day 2-60, Scott 1-29, Morton 1-12, Anderson 2-10. MIS, Gillison 4-91, I. Williams 5-55, Kelly 2-38.
INTERCEPTIONS – ALV, Whiten 1-1. MIS, Yeager 1-25.
MISSED FG’S – MIS, Dinnocenti 29-Short.
Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @ TLSports