FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Running back Travis Damron had two touchdown runs while the Siena Heights defense put together another soild performance as the Saints’ football team claimed a 27-17 win over 15th-ranked Saint Francis (Ind.) in Mid-States Football Association Mideast League action on Saturday.
After struggling through its first three contests, the SHU offense finally got rolling with 423 yards of total offense. On the other side of the ball, the defense allowed zero total rushing yards — just one week after recording minus-27 against Olivet Nazarene.
Damron opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run and then gave SHU the lead for good with a 1-yard burst with 1:54 left in the first half. He finished with eight carries for 35 yards.
The host Cougars (2-3, 0-1) hit a pair of big plays for points in the second half. After a 23-yard field goal by SHU kicker Matt Horton, USF closed the gap to 17-14 on an 84-yard pass from quarterback Wesley Hunsucker to wide receiver Cameron Smith.
Siena Heights quarterback Travis Zajkowski found wide receiver Raphael Dunson for the first passing touchdown of SHU’s season — a 10-yard hookup — to give the Saints a 24-14 advantage early in the fourth quarter.
Once again, Saint Francis had a big play in them as Hunsucker connected with wide receiver Seth Coate on a 50-yard play, trimming SHU’s lead to 24-21 with 9:58 to go.
On the Saints’ following drive, the visitors went 73 yards in 12 plays to set up a 20-yard kick by Horton. The SHU defense then responded with a three-and-out against USF’s offense before Damron and Zajkowski combined on five runs for 30 yards (Damron, 4 for 21; Zajkowski, 1 for 9) to run out the clock.
Wide receiver Reggie Blackmon gained 147 all-purpose yards for the Saints (2-2, 1-0), rushing twice for 65 yards and making five catches for 82. Fellow wide-out Curtis Smith also figured into the ground game with five runs for 44 yards.
Dunson added eight receptions for 86 yards and one touchdown while tight end Donovan Campbell made five four grabs for 48 yards.
Zajkowski completed 19 of 38 passes for 230 yards, one TD and one interception.
Defensive back Cha’Quan D. Love contributed an interception to the SHU defensive effort.
For the Cougars, linebacker Kyle Mathewson had 14 total tackles and defensive back Elliott Nelson finished with 10 stops. Defensive lineman Karrington THompson had a sack while defense back Na’Shawn Lewis recorded an INT.
On offense, running back Antoin Campbell ran 12 tmies for 59 yards. Four different Saint Francis passers combined to completed 9 of 30 throws for 187 yards.
The Saints are now 2-7 all-time against NAIA-ranked teams; their previous victory was a 22-21 triumph at Robert Morris (Ill.) on Nov. 9, 2013.
Siena Heights will return to action with another MSFA Mideast contest on Saturday, Oct. 11, when it visits Marian (Ind.).