FORT WAYNE – For the third time in four weeks, the Saint Francis Cougars found a top-five, undefeated opponent on their plate, and for the second week in four they removed un in undefeated.
Three weeks after knocking off then-No. 1 St. Xavier – and a week after losing by a touchdown to new No. 1 Marian – the Cougars got a yet another Austin Coleman kickoff return for a touchdown to spark a 28-19 victory at No. 5 William Penn in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
William Penn came into the game 7-0 for the first time since 1975. The Statesmen, however, remain winless lifetime against Kevin Donley’s Cougars in five tries.
Going against three undefeateds, away, all in a row, it shows a lot of our kids’ character in fighting through stuff, Donley said. It’s rough. We had to fight our way through it.
The Cougars (5-2) led 14-6 at halftime on the strength of Antoin Campbell’s 1-yard run and David Yoder’s 64-yard pass to Cam Smith, but Ed Cazenave opened the second half for William Penn by returning the opening kickoff 98 yards to trim it to 14-13.
Enter Coleman, who returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to give the momentum right back to Saint Francis.
Donley, for one, swears Coleman got shorted about six yards.
He’s unbelievable, he really is, Donley said. They return the opening kickoff second half, so they’re all pumped up, ready to go, and he turns around and returns one 106 yards. That’s got to be some kind of record.
Coleman set Saint Francis records for most kickoff return yards in a game, with 201 on five returns. The old record was 179 by Daniel Carter.
From that point forward, the Cougars’ defense took over, limiting William Penn to two Austin Kerrigan field goals as the Cougars kept William Penn’s offense, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA in rushing, out of the end zone.
I was probably most proud of our defense today, Donley said.
For the Cougars, Campbell ran 21 times for 98 yards and Yoder and Josh Miller combined for 189 passing yards and two scores.