New Wilmington, Pa. - September 5, 2009 - For the third-consecutive season, the Heidelberg University football team opened the year victorious. Heidelberg, under the guidance of third-year head coach Mike Hallett, traveled to New Wilmington, Pa. and topped host Westminster College 42-26. It is the second-straight season that Heidelberg has topped the Titans in the season opener for both institutions.
A restless start by Heidelberg resulted in a 3-0 deficit after 15 minutes of action. Three plays into the second quarter, Heidelberg’s linebacker Justin Dawson (Westminster, Calif. Golden West JC) recovered a fumble and returned it for a 60-yard touchdown. Setting up the play was a hard sack by fellow linebacker Sam Driscoll (University Heights, Ohio / St. Ignatius). Heidelberg went up 7-3 following a Jesse Hawkins (Georgetown, Ky. / Scott County) point after.
Westminster went on to score on two consecutive possessions to overtake the scoreboard at 17-7 with 2:12 remaining before the half.
In its final possession of the opening half, Heidelberg marched down the field courtesy of three-straight completions from junior quarterback Andrew Miller (Dalton, Ohio / Dalton). Miller connected with wide receivers Clifton Powell (Detroit, Mich. / Bishop Foley), Mike Preston (Maple Heights, Ohio / Euclid) and Mario Walton (Elyria, Ohio / Elyria) to set up an eventual 18-yard TD reception for Kenny Sims (Garfield Heights, Ohio / Garfield Heights). Hawkins followed with a PAT to cut Heidelberg’s deficit to 17-14 at the half.
After the Westminster offense was stopped in the first series of the second half, Heidelberg’s offense went 80 yards in two plays to take control of the scoreboard. Sims opened Heidelberg’s drive with a 19-yard run and Miller rolled out of the pocket to connect with Preston across the middle for a 61-yard TD score. Preston was untouched for the final 20 yards of his touchdown reception. Hawkins connected on the point after to give the Berg a 21-7 advantage with 8:10 left in the third quarter.
Heidelberg’s one-two combination of Miller and Preston continued to connect on its second drive of the third quarter. Preston had a step on Westminster’s secondary and hauled in a pass for a 71-yard touchdown reception. Hawkins converted his third PAT of the game to extend Heidelberg’s lead to 28-17.
Despite being held scoreless in the third quarter, Westminster found its way back to the scoreboard in its first series of the fourth quarter. Trevor Young connected on a 31-yard field goal to cut the Titans deficit to eight, 28-20. Heidelberg’s Matt Wilde (Norwalk, Ohio / Norwalk St. Paul) answered with an 85-yard kickoff return and a Hawkins PAT pushed the Berg’s advantage to 35-20.
Westminster and Heidelberg traded possessions before Westminster had a seven-yard TD reception to pull within 35-26 with 4:37 left in the game. On the ensuing possession, Heidelberg went 41 yards in four plays for a score. Jemar Lewis (Bedford Heights, Ohio / Bedford) broke through the middle and went untouched into the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown. Hawkins’ PAT pushed the eventual final score to 42-26.
Heidelberg finished the game with 294 yards of total offense, while the Titans racked up 406 yards. The Berg had 235 yards through the air, while Westminster finished with 309.
Miller completed 11-of-19 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns. His 11 passes were completed to seven different receivers. Leading the list at wide receiver was Preston. Preston hauled in four passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Powell finished with two receptions for 28 yards. On the ground, Lewis led the way with 52 yards in eight carries, while Sims had six carries for 34 yards.
Defensively, Wayne Glisson (Huntington Beach, Calif. / Fountain Valley) led the way with a career-high 17 tackles, including 10 solo stops. Also tallying a career-best in tackles was Jared Ruffing (Bellevue, Ohio / Seneca East) with 13.
Heidelberg faces a bye week before opening Ohio Athletic Conference action at Capital University Sept. 19. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m.