FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Nobody saw that comin'.
Not University of Saint Francis head coach Kevin Donley. Not Tim Farrell. Not Cody Capps or Carl Thomas. Not Jeff Wedding or Daniel Carter.
Oh, the fourth-ranked Cougars expected to win. Just not 35-0 over an Ohio Dominican team that after four games was averaging 48.8 points a game and had scored 70, 50 and 59 winning three of the first four games. A Panthers team that was averaging 493.8 yards in total offense per game. A team that featured the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League Player-of-the-Week in QB Cris Reisert who last Saturday against McKendree University completed his first 18 passes of the game.
Yet that's just what the Cougars did, shutting out ODU (3-2) and in the process set a USF record with three shutouts in the same season. And USF also won its 48th consecutive home game.
"We expected to win, but not like this," Thomas said after co-leading USF in tackles with eight, seven solo, a sack, two tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. "We expected a close game, but we got off to a good start stopping them around our 30 on their first possession and just fed off that energy."
After USF held ODU on fourth and two at the USF 29-yard line, the Cougars offense showed it takes a back seat to no team. Wedding connected with Brian Schultz for a 21-yard gain and on the next play, Wedding threw a perfect pass to WR Jarod Clodfelter who dashed into the end zone for a 49-yard TD reception with 7:35 to play.
"That felt great," Wedding said. "Getting on the board early just energized the whole team. Jarrod ran a great route and did a great job finding the end zone."
It was the first of two TD passes for Wedding.
On ODU's third possession, the Panthers drove to the USF 21, but Mitch Cory missed wide right on a 38-yard field goal try at 5:09 in the first quarter. USF steadily moved to a two TD lead with a 10 play, 79-yard drive capped by a 6-yard Carter scamper into the end zone.
Then Paul Carter III blocked any hopes the Panthers held for a comeback when he raced in to block Cory's punt, then scoop it up at the ODU 40 and easily sprint to the TD for a 21-0 USF lead with 11:37 to play in the half.
"Talk about energizing, that really raised our expectations," Wedding said.
"We still couldn't take anything for granted," USF OLB Cody Capps said. "The way they score, we had to keep playin' in the second half."
DB Donavon Evans gave USF another shot of energy when he stonewalled Ryan Fumi after a reception at the USF 8-yard line. ODU was trying for six points on fourth and 7 at the USF 8. USF answered with an 11-play, 92-yard drive concluding with a Wedding to Elijah Flowers 15-yard TD pass.
Then ILB Mark Drobac set up the final USF score after intercepting a Reisert pass and returning it 11 yards to the ODU 12. Carter rushed for eight yards and Doug Wasylk hammered in from the four with three second left in the third quarter.
ODU did 'out' offense USF 347 to 325 in total offense, but the Panthers only averaged 3.9 yards per play while USF averaged 5.5 yards per play. The USF defense held ODU to 6 of 20 successful third-down conversions and 3 of 8 fourth down conversions. The Panthers had converted 7-of-11 fourth-down conversions, a 64 percent rate, in their first four games.
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