The Justin Heacock era might be over at Washington & Jefferson.
And his nemesis, Westminster, is to blame again.
Heacock, who struggled for three quarters by completing 12 of 21 passes for 87 yard and a touchdown, was yanked late in a 23-18 loss to the Titans in a battle for first place in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.
Colt Jones, the talented backup, came into the game with 6:14 left to play and completed 8 of 14 passes for 68 yards. His seven-yard touchdown to Andrew Wolf with 3:28 to play brought W&J to within five. The two-point conversion pass fell short.
“I was a little nervous but I felt like I was ready,” said Jones. “I’ve been practicing here for a long time. I felt ready but couldn’t get it done.”
“He sparked us,” said W&J head coach Mike Sirianni.
“We’ll see what next week holds. They outcoached us again. They continue to outcoach us. Their blitzes hurt us again. We couldn’t pick up anybody.”
Tylon Eilam was unstoppable, catching 11 passes for 174 yards. The Westminster wide receiver caught three touchdown passes from Cole Konieczka, one from 41 yards and the other from 30 yards on the same play, an out and up route that left him wide open. And from the wildcat formation, he was left uncovered for a two-yard TD reception in the third quarter that brought Westminster within two, 12-10.
“We gave up two huge plays on defense,” said Sirianni. “I don’t know what else to say. I’m so frustrated. If you want to blame someone, blame me.”
Justin Huss gave W&J great field position on two kickoffs, the first 84 yards and the second 68 yards in the middle two quarters. W&J got only 14 yards on eight plays after that and scored only a field goal.
“We still have a chance to win the conference championship and we still have a chance to go to the NCAA playoffs. There could be a three-way tie for first place. A lot of things can happen.”
Joey Koroly, who missed the last time these two teams met in the spring PAC championship game, gained 46 yards on 11 carries. Wolf had four catches for 29 yards and two touchdowns. Huss had 215 all-purpose yards.
“Huss was so electric on the return game so that was more my concern,” said Westminster head coach Scott Benzel, who has beaten W&J four straight years.
“When they switched quarterbacks, it gave them some life. It’s typical Westminster-W&J. coming down to the final couple of plays.”
Last spring, Westminster took a 27-20 victory and talk about a quarterback change heated up then. The last six games coming in were decided by 32 points.
W&J had a 129-3 record when leading at halftime.
“I’ve become a big W&J fan,” Benzel said. “I hope they win out because if that happens, we’ll have an opportunity.”
The first half was dominated by W&J’s defense, which turned the ball over two times, produced a safety and set up a touchdown.
After the two teams traded field goals, Josh Byers from 36 yards and Sean Disbrow from 25 yards, the game turned W&J’s way.
On fourth down from the Westminster punter Ryan McKay had a punt blocked from the Westminster 16. It rolled into the end zone, where Westminster recovered for a safety.
W&J then made the Titans pay when Jusin Heacock hit Andrew Wolf with a 14-yard touchdown pass and 12-3 lead as Sean Disbrow made the extra-point attempt.
W&J had 15 yards rushing on 19 attempts but Westminster gained zero yards on 13 attempts.
Westminster lost two fumbles and had a punt blocked, made only three first downs and had 130 total yards.
W&J manged just three first downs and 51 total yards in the half.