College Football

Hawks set tone for new season by upsetting FCS opponent in opener

Quincy University wide receiver Brendan Saak is tackled by Drake's Terry Wallen after he catches a pass during Saturday night's college football game in Des Moines, Iowa. | Photo Courtesy of Chris Donahue
Chris Donahue(c)
By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFF
Posted: Sep. 3, 2016 10:35 pm Updated: Sep. 4, 2016 1:25 am
Cody Leonard

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The marketing staff of the Quincy University athletic department has been putting together a list of the top 30 moments over the 30 years since football was re-introduced as a varsity sport.

That list needs to be amended now.

The Hawks upset an FCS opponent on Saturday for the second time in their history, using an efficient, opportunistic offense and an aggressive defense to knock off Drake 38-35 in the season opener at Drake Stadium.

Quincy's only other victory against an FCS opponent came in 2009 when it opened the season with a 26-20 overtime victory at Indiana State.

Jaylan James

"Every win is a good win, but this one is like the icing on the cake for the way you want to start a season," senior right guard Les Sakaria said. "This definitely set the tone for this season.

"Everyone was proud to see all the work we've been putting in really show in the game."

It could very well be a tide-turning moment if the Hawks follow it up with another solid effort next week against Mayville State.

In 2009, Quincy lost five straight games after the upset of Indiana State.

"That's what matters," sophomore linebacker Cody Leonard said. "You have to keep moving forward and get to the next game. We're going to take one game at a time, keep playing how we are and keep getting better."

The Hawks showed improvement, even if the game started with a hiccup.

The Bulldogs, who play in the Pioneer Football League, recovered an onside kick on the opening kickoff at their own 46-yard line. Six plays later, Conley Wilkins scored on a 1-yard run for a 7-0 lead.

Quincy responded. A 57-yard drive resulted in a 35-yard field goal by Nathan Kewney, the freshman kicker from Quincy High School, as the Hawks established the run.

In turn, that opened up the passing game.

Sophomore quarterback Robbie Kelley connected with senior wide receiver Eric Poindexter for 28- and 67-yard touchdowns before redshirt freshman running back Jaylan James scored on 1- and 15-yard runs as the Hawks built a 28-14 lead.

"(Offensive coordinator Gary Bass) did a great job of exploiting what they gave us," Sakaria said after QU churned out 553 yards of total offense. "We did a lot of running and it worked out for us."

Although Drake scored on the last play of the first half and then closed the gap to 31-28 with a touchdown with five minutes to go in the third quarter, Quincy never panicked.

A stout defensive stand forced Drake to punt, giving Quincy possession near midfield. Kelley hooked up with Kody Wood for a 39-yard gain while getting hit, and after the penalty was marked off, Kelley scored on a 4-yard run for a 38-28 lead.

Drake made things interesting by scoring on an 84-yard drive 1:27 to go, but the Hawks' De'Carlos Poole recovered the onside kick and Quincy ran out the clock.

"It gives us a lot of confidence going into the next game," Leonard said. "We came here and showed what we have."

Leonard spearheaded the defensive effort, racking up 10 tackles with 3 1/2 tackles for loss and an interception. The Hawks allowed just 142 yards on the ground and forced two turnovers.

"Every single time, we would swarm to the ball as a defense and really lay the wood," Leonard said.

Meanwhile, the offense showed balance as the Hawks had 260 yards rushing and 293 yards passing. Kelley, in his first collegiate start, completed 18 of 25 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 60 yards.

James, also making his first start, rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries, while Poindexter had seven catches for 165 yards.

 

Quincy 38, Drake 35

QU DU

24 First downs 24

47-260 Rushing 33-142

293 Passing 233

553 Total yards 375

18-25-0 Comp-Att-Int 19-33-2

4-2 Fumbles-lost 0-0

10-78 Penalties-yards 9-78

Quincy 9 19 3 7 -- 38

Drake 7 14 7 7 -- 35

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

D -- Conley Wilkins 1 run (Josh Lee kick), 12:36

Q -- Nathan Kewney 35 FG, 6:33

Q -- Eric Poindexter 28 pass from Robbie Kelley (kick failed), 4:r43

Second Quarter

D -- Eric Saubert 11 pass from Cody Thibault (Lee kick), 14:53

Q -- Poindexter 67 pass from Kelley (kick failed), 14:36

Q -- Jaylan James 1 run (Kewney kick), 8:16

Q -- James 15 run (run failed), 3:52

D -- Grant Menard 9 pass from Thibault (Lee kick), 0:08

Third quarter

Q -- Grant Huelsmann 22 FG, 7:41

D -- Keegan Gallery 16 pass from Grant Kraemer (Lee kick), 5:00

Fourth Quarter

Q -- Kelley 4 run (Huelsmann kick), 14:24

D -- Wilkins 1 run (Lee kick), 1:29

------

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING--Quincy, Jaylan James 34-178, Robbie Kelley 6-60, Theo Hopkins 3-28, Team 4-(-6). Drake, Drew Lauer 9-79, Conley Wilkins 18-62, Cody Thibault 4-1, Grant Kraemer 2-0.

PASSING--Quincy, Kelley 18-25-0-293. Drake, Thibault 14-24-2-179, Kraemer 5-7-0-54, Andrew Clifford 0-2-0-0.

RECEIVING--Quincy, Eric Poindexter 7-165, De'Carlos Poole 1-41, Kody Wood 1-39, Owen Schoenenberger 3-25, James 3-10, Evan Powell 1-7, Jake Braskett 1-4, Brendan Saak 1-2. Drake, Eric Saubert 7-95, Grant Menard 5-65, Keegan Gallery 3-38, Wilkins 1-12, Zach Zlabis 1-12, Kyle Garcia 1-9, Lauer 1-2.