Waynesburg University helmet 2018

WAYNESBURG – Not long after Saturday’s football game at Waynesburg University’s John F. Wiley Stadium, Tom Petty’s “The Wait” played over the loudspeaker.

Perhaps it was coincidental, but it was fitting.

The Yellow Jackets hadn’t won a football game in 714 days– an unintentional ode to Babe Ruth – and had just one win in the past 1,064. That lone triumph was against Thiel, which came into Greene County losers of 29 straight.

For both teams, it may have been the best opportunity for a win in 2021, and it was Waynesburg that took advantage, scoring 35 second-half points en route to a 52-14 romp.

“A win is always fun,” Waynesburg coach Chris Smithley said.

Indeed, Smithley’s squad had a ball. Quarterback Tyler Raines threw for 325 yards and had as many touchdown passes (four) as incompletions. Running back Justin Flack carried 27 times for 177 yards and a pair of scores. Freshman Dakota Romantino followed up 260 receiving yards against Case Western Reserve – the second-most in school history – with 187 against Thiel, highlighted by a 98-yard score.

The 52 points were the most Waynesburg has scored since it put up 59 at Frostburg State Sept. 14, 2013. Raines and the Yellow Jackets are enjoying themselves.

“We’re out here having fun,” Raines said. “We’re out here fighting for each other every play, and that’s just what you need when you want an offense that’s going to be able to be successful.”

Waynesburg scored on its first possession. Flack took a pitch from Raines for a 6-yard score. The extra point was good and the Jackets led, 7-0.

Thiel answered in unlikely fashion on its next possession. Facing 4th-and-13 from Waynesburg’s 18-yard line, coach Mike Winslow kept the offense on the field. The decision paid off. Owen Trumbull hit Justin Logan for an 18-yard touchdown pass that tied the score at 7-7.

Waynesburg went back on top in its next possession when Raines hit Trenton Kerns for a 23-yard score. The Jackets pushed the lead to double digits later in the quarter on a 35-yard field goal by Keegan Raabe.

In the second half, a reasonably tight game turned into a rout.

Waynesburg’s Monroe Mohler ran the second-half kickoff back 89 yards, and Waynesburg led 24-7.

“We talk about that all the time, about how you (need to) come out and start the second half the right way,” Smithley said. “We came out, and we executed and we were able to get loose and get into the end zone. We were obviously pumped up about that.”

From there, everybody in the stadium knew where things were headed.

Waynesburg stayed pumped up five minutes later with Raines’ second touchdown pass, this one to Andrew Elerick. Now, it was 31-7.

Flack added his second touchdown in the fourth quarter. It was the seventh time the junior had rushed for more than 100 yards, and finally, a win awaited.

“I think it’s a really big step in the right direction for our program,” Flack said. “I think that we’ve kind of found an identity on offense. We’re doing the right things, we’re practicing well and I think that translates well into the game.”

For Smithley, Flack being a catalyst to a win was long overdue.

“He practices hard,” Smithley said. “He works really hard. He’s a good leader for us, and we’re excited about seeing that come into fruition.”

Having an efficient quarterback didn’t hurt, either.

After transferring from Division I Towson, Raines began his Waynesburg journey during a goofy spring campaign this year. Now, he might be finding a rhythm. In the past two games, he’s thrown for 670 yards and seven touchdowns.

“He’s feeling comfortable in the offense,” Smithley said. “We’re on the same wavelength. When your quarterback and your offensive coaches are all thinking the same way, it’s easy for him to be able to make checks and easy for us to call plays.”

Raines’ final touchdown strike, the 98-yarder, was the longest in Waynesburg history.

“That was all Dakota,” Raines said. “I just gave him the ball in space, and he took off.”

Raines spread the ball out well, not having to rely solely on Romantino. Matt Craig caught four balls for 65 yards, Kerns caught five for 47 with a score and both of Elerick’s receptions were touchdowns.

“Dakota is a baller, but we have ballers across the board,” Raines said. “With our game plan going in, we’ve been trying to spread the ball around.”

Thiel has lost 30 straight, and its past two losses have been by a combined 116-26. Winslow still lusts for his first win as Thiel’s head coach. To get it, things will have to go better.

“I don’t think we did anything well,” Winslow said.

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