NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – The Westminster College football team lost, 20-14, to No. 16 Wittenberg University in its 2017 season opener at home Saturday afternoon.
Wittenberg scored the first points of the game on the first play of the second quarter when Tiger quarterback Jake Kennedy found wide receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass for a 10-yard touchdown toss. An extra point by Adam Acquista gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 14:56 remaining in the first half and the score remained the same at halftime.
The Titans tied the game on their first drive of the second half, taking only three plays, as senior Paul Columbo (Boca Raton, FL / West Boca Raton) connected with classmate Jametrius Bentley (Lake Worth, FL / Park Vista Community) for a 51-yard touchdown throw. Freshman Brandon Chiquillo (Hialeah, FL / Mater Academy) tied the game with a successful extra point.
Wittenberg quickly responded and regained the lead after a 59-yard touchdown pass as Kennedy found Snodgrass again through the air. The Tigers extended their lead to 17-7 on their next possession with a 22-yard field goal by Acquista, capping off a 10-play, 45-yard drive; an interception by Wittenberg’s Jack Kayser gave the Tigers good field position at Westminster’s 49-yard line.
The Titans cut into Wittenberg’s lead after a six-yard touchdown rush by senior Dominique McKinley (Greensburg, PA / Greensburg-Salem), concluding a 14-play, 79-yard drive. Chiquillo’s extra point brought the score to 17-14 with 7:22 remaining in the game.
Wittenberg added insurance, 20-14, with a 22-yard field goal by Acquista on its next drive with 2:51 left. The Titan defense stopped the Tigers on third-and-goal at Westminster’s five-yard line when senior Bobby Noble (Murrysville, PA / Greensburg Central Catholic) and junior Travis Lauster (Prospect, PA / Slippery Rock) tackled Jeff Tiffner for no gain.
On the ensuing possession, the Titans drove the ball down to Wittenberg’s 11-yard line, after four first-down throws by Columbo. Wittenberg, however, sealed the victory after Columbo was unable to find Bentley on fourth-and-nine as Kayser broke up the pass in the endzone.
For the game, Westminster out-gained Wittenberg 343-296 in total yards, including a 225-188 through the air. Columbo finished 16-of-32 with a game-high 218 passing yards and a score. Bentley caught four passes for a team-high 87 yards and a touchdown. McKinley earned 76 yards off 18 carries on the ground and a score. Junior Miguel Luis (Hollywood, FL / Mater Academy), Lauster, and Noble led the Titan defense with seven tackles each. Noble and senior CJ Armstrong (Lake Worth, FL / Park Vista) each had two tackles for a loss (which included a sack for Noble), while sophomore Paul Gonzalez (Miami, FL / Florida Christian) had one. Senior Todd Jeter (Monroeville, PA / Gateway) pocketed an interception.
The Titans are back on the field with a road game at Waynesburg University on Saturday, September 9 at 1:30 p.m.