After defeating Alderson-Broaddus 45-7 in their first game of the season, the SVSU football team came home victorious yet again after beating Walsh 41-10 in a one-sided affair on Saturday.
Junior quarterback Ryan Conklin was named GLIAC player of the week for his performance.
The Cardinals struck on their first drive of the game with Conklin completing 2-3 on passing to Chad Gailliard before the drive was capped off by senior running back Jermaih Johnson (team-high 61 yards on 17 carries) with an 11-yard rushing touchdown, his first of the season.
Junior Josh Schelke forced a fumble on the following kickoff, leading to another short and successful drive for the Cardinals, ending in four plays on a 3-yard Nate McCrary rushing touchdown.
The Cardinals’ defense forced a quick three-and-out on Walsh’s first drive. This allowed the Cardinal offense to position themselves for a successful 40-yard field goal attempt by freshman kicker Connor Luksic, making the score 17-0 with five minutes left in the first quarter.
On the next Cardinal drive, Walsh forced their first punt of the day, setting up their first score on a 23-yard field goal from Kasey Tingler, making the game 17-3.
On SVSU’s next drive, Conklin threw an interception to Ronald Robinson, who returned it for a 51-yard defensive touchdown, bringing Walsh within a touchdown of SVSU.
On Walsh’s next possession, defensive back Joe Newman intercepted a pass and responded with a 56-yard return for a defensive touchdown, giving the Cardinals a 24-10 lead.
Newman credited the disruptive defensive line for the success in the secondary.
“Walsh was running a switch route, and I was able to stay in my zone and read the quarterback, which led to my interception.” Newman said. “The defensive line was able to get pressure on the quarterback all day, which makes it easier on the defensive backs.”
Head coach Jim Collins reflected on Newman’s critical score.
“It was great to see Joe Newman get the pick six,” Collins said. “He was not able to play last week but came back strong today.”
On the very next Cavalier possession, the Cardinal defense claimed another interception, this one being picked off by sophomore defensive back Aaron Berry.
On a later drive, Nate McCrary rushed in from two yards out for a late first half touchdown, leaving the score at 31-10 at the half.
Cardinal senior middle linebacker Michael Alexander forced a fumble on the second play of the second half, which was scooped up by teammate sophomore defensive back Donnell Alexander. The Cardinal offense worked quickly as well, scoring on their first play of the second half on a 26-yard pass from Conklin to Gailliard, making the score 38-10 in their favor.
Conklin was 12-20 for 153 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Gailliard ended his impressive day with 87 yards on six receptions and a touchdown, claiming half of Conklin’s completions and over half of Conklin’s passing yards.
Gailliard discussed the chemistry between himself and Conklin.
“I think the biggest thing is Ryan (Conklin) having the trust in me to be able to win against anybody on any route, and me knowing he’s going to put the ball there on the spot 10 times out of 10,” Gailliard said.
The teams traded possessions through much of the remainder of the third quarter, until Luksic kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:43 to go, making the score 41-10. Collins found comfort in the consistency of the special teams.
“Our punter Jake Matus had a great day,” Collins said. “And our freshman kicker Connor Luksic made a 40-yarder and a 32-yarder and continues to stay consistent on extra points.”
Both defenses persisted through a scoreless fourth quarter, leaving the score at 41-10 and giving the Cardinals another one-sided victory.
SVSU improves to 2-0 on the season. The Cardinals will face Truman (0-2) at home on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 1 p.m.