W&J gets emotional win for McNerney
College Football Videos
It's been 15 years since Washington & Jefferson lost consecutive games in a season.
Last week, the Presidents suffered two losses — the first infinitely more devastating and significant than the second.
Senior co-captain and running back Tim McNerney was killed Oct. 4 in an off-campus beating, and Thomas More defeated Washington & Jefferson two days later.
Playing for McNerney, the Presidents avoided a second consecutive defeat, coming from behind and willing themselves to a 24-21 win against Westminster on Saturday.
“We were not going to let Tim down,” Presidents quarterback Matt Bliss said. “And by losing today, if we would have lost two in a row, we would have let him down. But we came back and fought because we're doing this for him.”
The Presidents summoned McNerney's family from the stands after the game to present them with the game ball. A Knoch graduate, McNerney was the Presidents' leading rusher.
W&J's first home game since his death was Senior Day, and McNerney was honored just like the team's other 21 seniors. His brother, Patrick, took his place alongside his parents in the ceremony. McNerney's cousin wore McNerney's No. 5 jersey on the sidelines.
“We won't forget,” W&J coach Mike Sirianni said. “Our kids are still hurting, but we want everyone to pray for his family. ... They're still hurting, and they were so strong to come today. ... I just can't imagine.
“We just want to keep them in mind,” said Dion Wiegand, McNerney's replacement, who led all players in yards from scrimmage with 158. He had 95 of those yards during the second half, when W&J (5-2, 4-1 Presidents' Athletic Conference) erased its first deficit against Westminster in 12 years and extended its winning streak against the Titans to 12.
“You can never replace Tim; he was our best player,” Wiegand said. “He was our most inspiring player, but I'm just trying to do his will.”
Westminster (2-3, 1-3) took the opening kickoff and drove 65 yards, taking a 7-0 lead on an 8-yard quarterback draw run by Dak Britt.
Britt added a 61-yard touchdown run on a similar play late the second quarter, but the W&J defense did not allow much more. Westminster punted 10 times and was limited to three plays or less during 11 of 16 possessions.
The Presidents had their own problems offensively until late in the third quarter when four plays by Wiegand over a five-snap span accounted for 48 yards, culminating with a 2-yard touchdown run that put W&J ahead for good, 17-14.
Bliss added a 2-yard run on a quarterback draw with 6:39 left. Playing without top receiver Alex Baroffio, Bliss was 25 of 44 for 312 yards and a touchdown.
“We're playing without our two best players,” Sirianni said. “Our best one is looking down on us right now; our second-best one has a bad ankle.”
In addition to a pregame moment of silence and game ball, the Presidents vowed one more honor for McNerney's family.
“We told them we're handing the PAC trophy to them four weeks from now,” Wiegand said. “The rest of the season, we're playing for Tim. He wanted a PAC championship, and this one here was step one of four on the way to it.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NASA head tells Pitt grads their generation will ‘walk the face of Mars’
- Waynesburg HS grad Rachel Rohanna wins Symetra Tour event
- Rossi: Penguins’ best bet is on Martin
- Elites, media & character
- Spirit Airlines lifts fortunes of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
- Man fatally stabbed in Braddock Hills
- Young defensemen make case for future with Penguins
- From injuries to front office, Penguins’ season didn’t lack drama
- Penguins notebook: Crosby to play in worlds for 1st time since 2006
- Penguins president: General manager, coach won’t be fired
- Fire at North Union industrial building ruled accidental