Mayor’s Cup: Colonels take on rival Monarchs

Kirsten Peters, Co-Sports Editor

EDWARDSVILLE, Pa. — On Saturday, Wilkes University and King’s College faced off in the 23rd annual Mayor’s Cup game on the Colonels’ home turf at Schmidt Stadium.

Despite the anticipation for a close game, the Monarchs proceeded to trump the Colonels in a blowout of 45-0, dominating the contest and displaying their adversity over the frigid weather conditions.

On a day that began with snow squalls, the Monarchs defended themselves against not only the brisk wind gusts, but also the Colonels’ offense. From the moment the Colonels punted the ball, the Monarchs asserted their dominance, scoring in just three plays to take the early lead.

King’s quarterback Tommy Klock found receiver Gabe Boccella for a 24-yard completion, setting the tone as numerous Klock-Boccella combinations would ensue over the course of the game. A 14-yard rush from King’s Jordan Downes would move the Monarchs inside the Wilkes five, allowing Klock to run four yards into the endzone himself.

Although the Monarchs scored early, Wilkes junior defensive lineman Derek Schneider was able to block Jack Barreras’s extra point attempt for King’s, keeping the Colonels to only a six-point defeit with 12:14 to go in the first quarter.

After trading punts on the next nine possessions, the Colonels’ offense appeared to be rejuvenated to start the second quarter. Junior quarterback Jose Tabora found freshman wide receiver Juan Salas-Negron for a 25-yard completion to advance Wilkes to their own 48 yard line before Tabora had an eight-yard run of his own.

However, their momentum did not last long, as the Monarch defense recorded a 12-yard sack that knocked the Colonels down for the rest of the game. King’s standout player Elijah Demosthene recorded his first of three interceptions for the day following the sack.

Although the Colonel defense was trying their best to give their offense a fighting chance by forcing a King’s three-and-out after a turnover, Demosthene inserted himself into Colonels game-play again, resulting in a 15-yard interception and a solid display of Monarch offense that allowed Klock to run the ball in himself for the second time.

As the Colonel offense continued to struggle, Wilkes head coach Jonathan Drach pulled his starting quarterback and put in his second-string man to finish out the half, freshman quarterback Heath Hoovler.

Although the Colonels found themselves close to scoring after the quarterback change, a six yard loss on a rush, incomplete pass and eight yard sack pushed the Colonels back to the King’s 36, forcing a punt and leaving the Monarchs ahead 13-0 going into halftime.

After the half, Drach returned to his starting quarterback, but it was to no avail, as Demosthene proved to be one of the Colonels greatest pitfalls. He picked off a Tabora pass for the third time and ran it back for a 95-yard touchdown, adding insult to injury as King’s expanded their lead to 28-0.

Drach pulled Tabora once again, but an ankle injury for Hoovler in the fourth quarter caused Drach to revert back to Tabora.

Although the Monarchs had already asserted their dominance, they poured salt on the wound in the fourth quarter, adding 17 points to the scoreboard to demolish the Colonels. A 25-yard field goal, a Downes touchdown and a Myles Shelton touchdown solidified the Colonels crushing 45-0 defeat.

Despite the valiant effort by the Colonel defense, something was off the mark for the Colonel offense, as they struggled throughout the course of the entire game to make it into the endzone, not scoring for the first time in a game all season.

“Coming in as a freshman, I honestly wasn’t 100 percent sure what to expect. I knew it was going to be a much different experience than high school,” said freshman offensive lineman Brendan Boris. “After the team going defeated last year and the new coaching staff, I knew everyone had an equal opportunity and I’m grateful for getting that opportunity.

“As for wins and loses, I thought we would be competitive with teams, but I knew that this year would be a rebuilding year and we would have to learn from mistakes and the hard way sometimes. Overall, we exceeded my expectations on how the season would go, finishing .500 with a chance at a bowl game and playing a lot of really good teams.”

Tabora finished 12-for-21 for 94 yards, while being sacked four times by the Monarchs overwhelming defense.

Following the Monarchs’ victory, the Most Valuable Players from each team were named. On the victorious side, Demosthene was fittingly named the MVP after his stellar performance. For the Colonels, it was senior linebacker Lukas Wood, who posted 11 tackles to lead the Wilkes defensive unit.

Although the game did no go in the Colonels favor, it is not representative of the turn around the Colonels have had this season as a whole when compared to last year’s 0-10 record.

This year, Wilkes finished the regular season with a record of 5-5 overall and 4-4 in the conference. This is the first season that the Colonels have attained five wins in regular season play since their 5-5 season in 2012. In the MAC, the Colonels tied five other teams for fourth place.

Under Drach’s “New Era of Wilkes Football” mentality, the Colonels were able to do just that – have a defining season that put them on their opponent’s radar.

“I think this season was a great step forward for this program that nobody was expecting,” said junior wide receiver Derek Nelson. “I’m excited for next season and to see all the potential this team has.”

Although they will not advance in the MAC, Wilkes still has an opportunity to play more football this season, as the team awaits to hear the decision on whether or not they will be selected to compete in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) bowl.