St. Louis, Mo., September 28, 2013 – Washington University's offense broke out of a slump by scoring four touchdowns in a 31-14 win over Centre College Saturday at Francis Field in St. Louis. The 31 points scored by Washington U. was a season-high and surpasses the season total of 17 scored in the first three games.
Washington University head coach Larry Kindbom picked up the 150th win of his Washington University career Saturday against Centre. Kindbom, the winningest coach in school history, is 150-94 (.615) in 25 seasons on the Danforth Campus.
Washington U. had 316 yards of total offense in the win, highlighted by 165 yards on 48 carries on the ground. Senior quarterback Eric Daginella was 17-of-31 for 151 yards, a TD and three interceptions, and also picked up 31 yards rushing and a TD. Junior Zach Lonneman (75 yards, TD) and sophomore Alex Graham (46 yards, TD) led the rushing attack for Washington U., while freshman wide receiver Hank Childs led the receiving corps with five catches for 37 yards.
Junior quarterback Heath Haden got Centre on the scoreboard first with 6:41 left in the first quarter after he faked a handoff and scampered 13 yards into the end zone. The Washington U. offense answered right back with a 14-play, 49-yard drive as sophomore kicker Alex Hallwachs connected on a 39-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
The Bears took advantage of great field position midway through the second quarter after senior defensive lineman Nelson Nwumeh tipped a pass that junior linebacker Fade Oluokun picked off and ran to the Centre 10-yard line. Three plays later, Daginella escaped three Centre defenders on a play-action pass and scampered five yards for the touchdown. The extra point by Hallwachs made it 10-7 with 9:55 left before half.
Senior Andrew Skalman picked off Haden on the ensuing possession in the end zone to give the Bears one more chance on offense. The Bears took advantage of the turnover and Daginella ignited a 12-play, 80-yard drive to push the lead to 17-7 after he found junior tight end Chris Levine across the middle for a 19-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown reception for Levine was the first of his career.
Washington U.'s defense allowed 184 yards of offense in the first half, but forced a turnover on each of Centre's final three possessions. The Bears had a 21:29-8:31 advantage in time of possession and gained 103 yards on the ground.
Graham capped a six-play, 61-yard drive with a five-yard run on the Bears' opening drive of the third quarter to push the advantage to 24-7. After the teams traded punts, Centre cut the lead to 24-14 with 6:53 left in the third quarter after Amoh Kumengisa scored from four-yards out. Washington U. put the game out of reach with 3:52 remaining when Lonneman scored from a yard out to make it 31-14.
Skalman had a career-high 11 tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception in the win. The interception for Skalman was the ninth of his career. Sophomore defensive back Quincy Marting added a career-high nine tackles, while Nwumeh had seven tackles, five pass break-ups and a half tackle for loss. Junior defensive back Patrick Cantwell added his first career interception in the win.
Special teams also played a huge role in the win, led by sophomore punter Alec Stanke and freshman kick returner Dylan Newcomb. Stanke averaged 43.2 yards on six punts with two landing inside the 20-yard line, while Newcomb had three kickoff returns for 84 yards (28.0 average) with a long of 36.
Haden finished the day 28-of-53 for 298 yards and three interceptions. He entered the day third in NCAA Division III in passing yards and 12th in total offense. Ricky Adams was his favorite target hauling in 103 yards on five receptions. The Colonels were limited to 92 rushing yards on 29 carries and had four turnovers. Ben Leahy led the defensive unit with 17 tackles.
Washington U. (2-2) concludes a two-game home stand against Berry College Saturday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m. The Vikings have a 0-3 record and lost at Rhodes College 36-24 Saturday.
Bear Notebook: Washington U. and Centre met for the 18th time in school history – but for the first time since 1984 … Washington U. leads the all-time series with Centre, 10-7-1 … The Bears honored 11-year NFL veteran and 1974 graduate Shelby Jordan at halftime for his recent induction into the College Football Hall of Fame … Washington U. has won 21-straight games dating back to the 2007 season when scoring 21 or more points … Centre was the fourth-straight undefeated opponent for the Bears … The Bears were 5-of-5 in the red zone and had a 40:05-19:55 advantage in time of possession.