LEXINGTON, Va. – The Washington and Lee defense forced five turnovers and recorded five sacks in ending a three-game losing streak to Franklin & Marshall with a 24-10 victory over the Diplomats on Saturday afternoon at Wilson Field.
The Washington and Lee offense opened the season with a sluggish effort, gaining just 228 yards and converting on just 5-of-14 third down conversions on the day. However, the Generals' defense picked up the slack by holding F&M to just 14 rushing yards (316 total) with three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
W&L (1-0) opened the scoring with 14:16 left in the second quarter when senior quarterback Charlie Westfal (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan) found sophomore tight end Alex Evans (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) with a 10-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead.
The Diplomats (0-1) responded on their ensuing possession when sophomore placekicker Chris DeStefano (Berwyn, Pa./Conestoga) capped a 12-play, 57-yard drive with a 25-yard field goal at the 10:02 mark. F&M drove to the W&L 11-yardline with 1:56 remaining in the half, but senior linebacker Rob Look (Dallas, Texas/Hillcrest) intercepted F&M senior quarterback John Harrison (Flourtown, Pa./LaSalle College) on the 9-yardline to preserve the Generals' lead. The Diplomats again drove into W&L territory with seconds remaining, but DeStefano missed wide right from 31 yards out as time expired and the Generals carried a 7-3 lead into the break.
W&L extended its lead to 10-3 on a 40-yard field goal by senior placekicker Peter Alston (Norfolk, Va./Norfolk Academy) late in the third quarter and extended its lead early in the fourth quarter. The Generals were forced to punt on their first possession of the fourth period and the punt hit an F&M player on the leg and was recovered on the Diplomats' 9-yardline. Two plays later, junior running back Brett Murray (Lookout Mountain, Tenn./Baylor) scored from six yards out to give W&L a 17-3 lead with 10:29 left in the game.
Franklin & Marshall pulled to within one score on the game's next possession when Harrison found first-year running back Lamont Jackson (Philadelphia, Pa./Germantown Academy) from 17-yards out with 7:20 remaining to make it 17-10. However, the Generals took the next possession 65 yards on six plays for a 24-10 lead with 3:51 to play. Junior running back Sasha Vandalov (Vienna, Va./James Madison) opened the drive with a 40-yard run and Westfal capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run.
The Diplomats drove into W&L territory with just over two minutes to play, but senior cornerback John Beriont (Milford, N.J./Delaware Valley Regional) intercepted Harrison on the 21-yardline to preserve a 2-touchdown lead. Shortly thereafter, the game was delayed due to lightning, but the final 1:43 ran off the clock harmlessly just over 30 minutes later giving the Generals a win in their season-opener.
Junior running back Russell Stewart (Elkin, N.C./Elkin) led the Generals on the ground with 57 yards on 10 carries. Murray totaled 56 yards and one touchdown on 16 rushes, while Vandalov had 55 yards on eight carries. Westfal completed 3-of-9 passes for 30 yards and one score and rushed for another touchdown, and Evans caught two balls for 17 yards and one score. Defensively, junior linebacker Jesse Jenkins (Roanoke, Va./William Fleming) notched a team-best 11 tackles, while Look had five tackles, one sack and one interception. Junior defensive lineman Alex Castelli (North Potomac, Md./Thomas Wootten) chipped in a pair of sacks.
Harrison paced the F&M offense by completing 28-of-46 passes for 302 yards and one touchdown (2 INTs), while senior running back John Kaschak (Lake Hoptacong, N.J./Jefferson Township) rushed 10 times for 29 yards. Jackson led the Diplomat receivers with eight catches for 87 yards and one touchdown.
Washington and Lee returns to action on Saturday as it hosts Sewanee for a 1:00 pm contest.
-- GENERALS --