Fulton, Mo., May 1, 2021 – The Blue Jay football team came into Saturday's season final looking to add an undefeated season to the South Division UMAC title they had already secured with last month's win at Iowa Wesleyan University. When Greenville ended its season due to COVID-19 protocols it left the Blue Jays at 2-0, Greenville at 1-1 and IWU at 0-2. The only game remaining was Westminster hosting IWU. The passing attack of the Tigers proved too much to overcome on Saturday as the visiting Tigers came out on top 35-14 to dash the hopes of an undefeated season.
The Blue Jays got off to a great start as they would stop the Tigers in their first series of the game three and out forcing a punt. The Blue Jays would drive deep into Tiger territory. Four Kalyn Davis rushes and a couple Wyatt Ellis passes to receiver Ross Trittler had the Blue Jays down to the IWU 21-yard line. A loss of a yard on a 3rd and 2 play left the Jays with 4th and 3 and the field goal unit would come onto the field for what everyone thought would be another Tim Branneky field goal. Branneky and the Blue Jay coaching staff would let everyone including the Tigers in on a secret as Branneky would take a direct snap and throw for a 22-yard touchdown to Taylor Dobbins! The fake field goal and subsequent PAT by senior Brad Hammel would stake the Blue Jays to an early 7-0 lead.
The Tigers would not waste much time tying the game as they would drive down the field in a little over four minutes on the strong arm of their quarterback Gavin Esquivel who's two-yard touchdown pass to Shomari Wilson would not the game at 7-7 at the end of the 1st quarter.
The second quarter would be all Iowa Wesleyan as they would score all 21 points in the quarter to take a commanding 28-7 lead. The Blue Jays did put together a drive late in the second quarter to the IWU 25-yard line but Ellis 3rd down pass with 7 seconds left was intercepted in the endzone. The Tigers would lead 28-7 heading into the half.
The second half would start with the two teams trading off series without a score. The Blue Jays would start to march on their second possession. The Blue Jays would use a poor punt by the Tigers to take over in IWU territory starting at their 40-yard line. A 13-yard completion from Ellis to Trey King on 1st down had the Jays moving. A big 4th down carry by Davis kept the drive alive and QB1 Ellis would finish off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run as he would carry a defender into the endzone. The Branneky PAT would cut the Tiger lead to 28-14.
Iowa Wesleyan would look to answer on their next possession. The Tigers would drive the ball down to the Westminster 5 and had the ball 1st and goal. The Blue Jays defense would stand up. An incomplete pass by Esquivel would be followed by Blue Jay linebacker Dominic Licameli standing up Tiger running back Carter Colby for no gain. The Blue Jays would defend the 3rd down pass and the Tigers would be forced to send out the field goal unit for a chip shot attempt. The Jays Rothman Harris would break through the Tiger line and get a hand on the Leo Olivero kick. Senior Kobe Kaminski would recover the ball on the 14-yard line and the Blue Jays would have hope of a comeback.
That hope would be stoked when Ellis would find King for a 58-yard completion down to the IWU 25 yard line just after the start of the 4th quarter. However, four consecutive incomplete passes by the Jays would lead to a turnover on downs.
The teams would exchange stops on the next four possessions. The Blue Jays on the fourth of those possessions would drive to the IWU 27-yard line but Ellis 4th down pass was intercepted with 5:25 to go in the game and was returned 59 yards into Westminster territory.
The Tigers, having dodged a bullet, would respond by driving for a touchdown with just 3:59 left to play to extend their lead to 35-14 and effectively put the game away.
Ellis led the Blue Jay passing attack going 15-33 for 203 yards and three interceptions. Branneky threw the only touchdown pass for the Jays on the fake field goal.
Ellis would lead the Blue Jay running game as well as the versatile quarterback would carry the ball 16 times for 76 yards and a touchdown. Senior Kalyn Davis would also carry the ball 16 times for 41 yards.
The Blue Jay receiving corps was led on the day by King who would haul in three catches for 98 yards. Trittler would catch a team high 5 passes for 40 yards and senior Alec Fleetwood would catch 4 passes for 38 yards.
The Blue Jays defense was led on the day by Licameli who accounted for 7 tackles. Hunter Johnson and Dawson Brandt would each record 6 solo tackles. Ben Heimann would record 5 tackles and one tackle for a loss of 3 yards.
Before the game the Blue Jays football team celebrated the careers of four seniors and a junior who will student teach next semester. The seniors Kobe Kaminski, Alec Fleetwood, Brad Hammel, Kalyn Davis and Junior Ben Heimann were honored for their hard work and dedication to the program. We wish them well and thank them for all the memories.
The loss ends the Blue Jays COVID shortened season at 2-1 overall and 2-1 in the UMAC South Division to win the division title. With a lot of key pieces returning and a large recruiting class coming in, the future looks bright for the Blue Jays and that future will come fast as the 2021 Fall football season begins in just over three months and two weeks. We will see you in the fall Blue Jay Nation!