Urbana University scored three times over its final five possessions, including a 38-yard touchdown pass from Cale Burdyshaw to Trevon Saunders in the final seconds to move past West Virginia State, 30-23, at Laken Field on Saturday. The Blue Knight victory marked the first win of head coach Tyler Haines’ career.
Haines promised his team would have a better performance this week after being shut out in the opener, and the Blue Knights did not disappoint.
UU (1-1) capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive that began with 2:40 remaining after WVSU (1-1) tied the score 23-23 on a field goal.
During the final drive, UU converted two critical third downs to set up the score. On third-and-one, Burdyshaw rushed for two yards at the UU 40, and two plays later found junior TE Larry Southall for 20 yards on third-and-10.
From there, drama ensued as Burdyshaw found Saunders in the back of the end zone but the play was negated due to off-setting penalties. According to Haines, the defense showed the same look on the do-over and Burdyshaw found Saunders again. This time with no flags.
Saunders set a career-high total in receiving yardage (153 yards) for the second straight week. The speedy sophomore has transformed into a big-play threat for the Blue Knights with half of his catches on the season going for over 30 yards.
Saunders also scampered 50 yards on his lone rushing attempt Saturday afternoon.
Burdyshaw showed great improvement behind center for UU.
After exiting last week just before halftime due to injury, Burdyshaw’s status was questionable leading up to the contest. The junior QB put his leadership on full display though with a gutsy performance, finishing 16-of-34 through the air with 290 passing yards and two touchdowns.
He did throw two interceptions, but showed up when it mattered most for his team on the final drive.
First-year RB Ben Sasu rushed for a team-high 55 yards and scored on the ground, while senior RB Deonta Rudasill also found the end zone. Senior WR Ron Roberts pulled down a 16-yard TD late in the fourth quarter. Senior WR Karim Jones led UU receivers with five catches (45 yards).
On defense, senior LB D’Gary Wallace stayed true to form by recording a career-high 20 tackles. He finished four tackles shy of the UU single-game record.
Fellow linebackers Bo Keener and Kevin Chapple also produced double-digits in the total-tackles column with 13 and 12, respectively. The trio combined for 45 total stops on defense. Chapple also collected two of UU’s three sacks.
WVSU was led by WR Quinton Gray who produced a game-high 10 catches for 126 yards. Yellow Jacket QB Matt Kinnick went 25-of-38 for 286 yards and two touchdowns.
Haines: “I’m so proud of these guys and the work that they have put in. I’ve seen incredible effort and it paid off this week.”
Haines on the final TD play:
“We were close enough to consider the field goal and we had two timeouts left,” Haines said. “I just wanted to make sure Cale [Burdyshaw] took care of the ball and didn’t take a sack. He played well and helped us get a win.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
UU (379) and WVSU (380) produced nearly the same amount of total net yardage
UU went 3-of-5 in the red zone and scored 21 points inside the WVSU 20-yard line
The Blue Knights converted 5-of-6 third downs in the fourth quarter
UU turned the ball over three times (Two interceptions, fumble); WVSU lost two fumbles
Each team recorded three sacks
UU will host league favorite No. 24 Concord (1-1) on Saturday. The Mountain Lions are coming off a 27-10 win over Fairmont State. Kickoff is scheduled for noon at UU Stadium.