UU football seeks first-ever 3-0 start

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The Urbana University football team and its fifth-ranked rushing defense will aim for the program’s first 3-0 start when it plays at winless Wheeling University tonight. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at WU’s Bishop Schmitt Field in the first gridiron meeting between the two schools.

UU is riding early momentum after starting 2-0 for just the fourth time in school history. But head coach Tyler Haines knows improvements are still needed, and the focus in the program remains on winning each day. The Blue Knights are 6-3 in MEC Thursday night games, but just 1-3 on the road.

“In the first two weeks, I think we’ve shown that we potentially have the opportunity to be a contender,” Haines said. “There’s been ups and downs. Last week, we started slow against a really good team. We found a way to make some plays at the end of the game to win, and I like seeing that, but we can’t do that in this league where we start slow and expect to come back all the time. I think we got some talent out there, we’ve got some older guys and some high expectations. We just got to continue to focus on us and get better every day.”

The Blue Knights overcame a 13-point deficit and three turnovers to stun the University of Charleston in last week’s home opener, 28-20. It was the largest come-from-behind win since 2005. UU trailed 20-7 early in the second quarter, and then scored on the final drive before halftime, forced a three-and-out to open the third quarter and scored on the next drive to take the lead for good.

UU’s veteran defense, which limited UC to just 11 total rushing yards, stepped up with four straight stops deep in Blue Knight territory to end the game. Duray Hall was named the MEC Defensive Player of the Week after recording 13 tackles.

Offensively, UU is averaging 35.5 points per game and 415.5 yards of total offense. The Blue Knights have scored on 7 of 8 drives in the red zone and average nearly 34 minutes in time of possession.

Wheeling University is in its first season of varsity competition after adding a football program in 2017. Head coach Zac Bruney leads the young Wheeling program after coaching stints at Ohio Dominican and his alma mater Mount Union.

WU (0-2) is coming off a 53-10 loss at Fairmont State, but nearly knocked off West Liberty in a 33-30 Week 1 setback.

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