Quarterback Chad Kanoff ’13 found the endzone six times, receiver Clinton Hooks ’13 caught four touchdown passes and the Wolverine defense survived a 21-point fourth quarter outburst by the St. Francis Golden Knights in a 41-36 home win.
St. Francis’ late surge was aided by two recovered onside kicks. At 2-0, the Wolverines are now tied for first place in league standings with Chaminade, who the Wolverines host next week.
Kanoff matched his career-high in touchdowns with six, a record he set last week against St. Paul. The Vanderbilt commit threw for a career second-best 398 yards and hit running back Garrett Robinson ’13 for two touchdowns. Hooks doubled his career-high two touchdowns. Without an interception on the night, Kanoff’s season total stands at 32 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
“Pretty exciting fashion, but it’s a good win,” defensive end Keith Leonard ’13 said. “We’re 2-0 in the Mission League and we’re finally getting some respect around this league.”
The Wolverines brought a 34-15 lead into the fourth quarter then extended it to a 41-15 lead with about 10 minutes left in the game before St. Francis scored three straight touchdowns to cut the lead to five points. St. Francis had three straight offensive possessions after recovering onside kick attempts with the score at 41-22 and 41-30. St. Francis did not attempt an onside kick after scoring to make it 41-36 and instead stopped the Wolverine offense to get the ball back at its 20-yard line with less than two minutes to play. However, the Wolverine defense managed to halt the final St. Francis offensive on its final drive of the game and clinched the victory.
“We asked the defense to be on the field a lot,” Head Coach Scot Ruggles said. “Obviously, with the onside kicks, you either get those bounces or you don’t and they got those tonight. But we stressed to the kids just to finish and sometimes that means you have got to make a defensive stand to win a game. Ugly, pretty, doesn’t matter to me. We like winning.”
The win moved the Wolverines one game closer to sealing a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Wolverines, who stand at 2-0 in league after last week’s 33-point win over St. Paul, are guaranteed a spot in playoffs if they finish at 3-2. If the Wolverines beat their next three league opponents, they would earn a league championship for the first time since 2006, when the team was a member of the Del Rey League. Prior to this season, the Wolverines were 1-9 in two years of Mission League play.
The Wolverines’ matchup with Chaminade this Friday, Oct. 19 will be a big opportunity for the team to make another statement in the Mission League, according to Leonard. A win over Chaminade would give the Wolverines sole possession of first place in the Mission League standings. The Wolverines finished 1-4 in league play last year after going 0-5 in league the year before.
“Going into the season, there were many articles written about the Mission League and we weren’t even mentioned in them,” Leonard said. “Now, we’re 2-0 and we got Chaminade next week. Last year, we were a different team. We’re older now and more experienced, so Chaminade’s going to have a fight on its hands.”
Ruggles didn’t hesitate to call his team “the underdog” in the matchup against a team that stomped on last year’s squad, 55-0.
“We get one of the best teams around coming in next week with Chaminade,” Ruggles said. “I don’t mind being the underdog, and we’ll prepare to win the football game as we do every week. I have a lot of respect for what they do, but why not us?”
Running back/defensive back Correy King ’13 said the key for the Wolverines to pulling off the upset would be a strong week of practice to prepare for Chaminade running back Terrell Newby, who has nine Div. I scholarship offers.
“We just need to come out starting Monday and work really hard,” King said. “This is probably one of the biggest games we have to play. They’re going to come in cocky and we’re going to need to punch them in the mouth.”