The weather was chilly and the mud was deep, but the UR spirit couldn’t have been brighter as the Yellowjackets scraped back from a fourth quarter 16-7 lead by Washington University in St. Louis to come within two points of topping the Bears Sunday night in St. Louis. “It was tough conditions – there were four inches of mud and we couldn’t see the hash-marks on the field after the second quarter,” sophomore linebacker Jeff Leslie said.The Yellowjackets took an early lead on the 5-4, 3-0 in the UAA, Bears, with Pat O’Brien rushing two yards for a touchdown, capitalizing on an opening drive fumble by the Bears that gave UR favorable field position.Washington rebounded later in the first quarter with a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Adam Meranda to wide receiver Brad Duesing to even up the score.Neither team would score again until Jonathan Feig booted a 23-yard field goal in the third quarter to allow the Bears to take the lead 10-7. The Bears tacked on another six points as quarterback Matt Alley completed a nine-yard touchdown pass for Duesing’s second score of the night.The weather was cold and wet and the Yellowjackets were down nine points with less than a quarter to play. It looked like the Yellowjackets had reached their nadir. No one in the crowd could have expected the Yellowjackets to turn things around so dramatically before the expiring clock could stop the UR advance and preserve what remained of the home team’s victory.Starting on UR’s own 27-yard line, sophomore quarterback Aaron Molisani connected with senior wide receiver Brian Ferris, who wove through defenders before being brought down at the Washington 18-yard line. An illegal block penalty charged against UR brought the chains back 10 yards to midfield, 10 yards behind the spot of the penalty. The catch, however, still advanced the Yellowjackets 33 yards into Bear territory. Molisani then completed two passes to O’Brien and senior wide receiver Patrick Roman for another first down. From the Washington 35-yard line Molisani rushed 18 yards on two quarterback keepers to bring the Yellowjackets inside the Bears’ redzone. Molisani then switched things up by launching a 14-yard toss to Ferris, who rushed to the Washington three-yard line before stepping out of bounds. It was an easy three yards for O’Brien and the Yellowjackets scored their second touchdown with 1:47 left to play.With only seconds over a minute and a half left to score, the Yellowjackets were forced to attempt an onsides kick, which was recovered by Ferris to give UR one last chance to attempt either a field goal or a touchdown – either which would have won the game for the Yellowjackets. “Recovering the on-sides kick was huge,” sophomore offensive lineman George Guzauskas said.The Bears came at the Yellowjackets will full force, bearing down with three consecutive blitz players to pressure Molisani into throwing three incomplete passes. On a last chance fourth down with ten yards to go, Molisani valiantly tried to connect with sophomore receiver Pat Manuel but the ball fell just out of reach. The Bears took over on downs and ran out the clock to rein in a close 16-14 win.Like last week’s game, the Yellowjackets were greatly assisted by an improvement in preventing turnovers. The Bears were only able to produce one turnover from the Yellowjackets, an interception from Molisani that was returned for 15 yards. Defensively, the Yellowjackets produced three turnovers, including taking away Washington’s first two offensive possessions. “It is mostly mental mistakes that cause turnovers and we’ve talked about it and focused on the problem,” Leslie said.The Yellowjackets have their last away game of the season next week when they take on Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Case Western is 5-3 overall but have dropped both of their UAA matches, against Washington and Carnegie Mellon. Schloss can be reached at email@example.com.
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