Late Yellow Jacket Rally Falls Short In Final Seconds As UC Prevails, 35-31

Down 35-31, State’s final rally of the game fell just two yards shy of the end zone in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter as the Yellow Jackets (0-1) dropped the season opening Kanawha Classic against archrival UC.

Scoring summary, stats at

State fell behind 14-0 early after the first quarter when quarterback Mason Olzewski connected long touchdown passes on the Eagles first two possessions.

The Yellow Jacket offense would get in a rhythm at the beginning of the second quarter. With a little over 30 seconds played at the start of the quarter, tailback Calil Wilkins put the Yellow Jackets on the board a one-yard touchdown run.

On the very next U.C. possession, Yellow Jacket defensive back Kyle Alexander intercepted Olzewski and ran it back deep into Golden Eagle territory. A few plays later Wilkins would score his second touchdown of the game, this time from nine yards out. Aaron Ball’s PAT would knot the game at 14-14.

The unreal quarter for the Yellow Jackets would continue with quarterback Austin Hensley connecting with wide receiver Tyrell Hendseron on a 55 yard touchdown pass to put the Yellow Jackets ahead 21-14. Olzewski would tie the game up with a 13-yard touchdown run with a little more than two minutes left before halftime.

The Yellow Jackets would drive, but be stopped on the 33-yard line with a seconds left. This prompted Head Coach John Pennington to send kicker Aaron Ball out to try a long, 50-yard field goal. Ball’s field goal would sail through the uprights with several yards to spare, and send the crowd into frenzy as time expired on the second half.

Much like the way the Yellow Jackets came out strong to start the second quarter, the Golden Eagles would do much the same for the third quarter. Olzewski connected on a 40-yard touchdown pass, and a seven-yard touchdown run to give UC a 35-24 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

On the first play of the fourth quarter Wilkins scored his third touchdown of the day, but this time it was through the air off a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hensley. Ball’s PAT brought the Yellow Jackets within four points of the Golden Eagle lead.

Late in the quarter Hensley would go down after contact with a Golden Eagle defender with some form of a lower leg injury. On the final Yellow Jacket drive backup quarterback Faustino Saucedo relieved him.

Saucedo connected with wide receiver Zach Pate on a long fourth down conversion that kept the Yellow Jackets drive alive late in the quarter.

On the UC . two yard line with 22 seconds left, Wilkins would be stopped just shy of the goal line and end the game.

Wilkins score. Photo courtesy of wvsu, a YJ partner

Both teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense. Hensley was 22 of 34 with 260 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Wilkins was the top rusher for the Yellow Jackets with 138 yards and two touchdowns, while Dylan Lucas added 64 yards on the ground. Tyrell Henderson was the top receiver for the Yellow Jackets with nine receptions, 142 receiving yards, and a touchdown. Zach Pate added seven catches for 85 yards.

State travels to UVA-Wise next Saturday, Sept. 8 in their last MEC meeting before Wise leaves the conference.


Stats, scoring summary at

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