WISE (Va.)– The West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats have never lost to UVa.-Wise in three previous Mountain East Conference encounters.
Despite falling behind by a 10-0 score after one quarter, this 2016 scrappy version of the Bobcats weren't going to be the first team to lose to the Cavaliers.
Wesleyan scored 35 unanswered points to defeat UVa.-Wise by a 35-10 score in a MEC contest today at Carl Smith Stadium.
"They jumped out on us early but overall I thought we responded well," remarked head coach Del Smith.
Senior tailback Michael Anderson (pictured) returned to form today against the Cavaliers. After being held for under a 100 yards in the last two games, Anderson ran for 193 yards and scored a total of four touchdowns for Wesleyan.
"Our offense found its rhythm in the second half," said Smith. "Anderson probably only had about 40 yards at the half, but he is one of those backs, that once he gets going, he is really hard to slow down. He can certainly gas a defense."
Down by that 10-0 score, Wesleyan's Nate Simmons came up with a huge interception at the Bobcat two-yard line that prevented a potential UVa.-Wise score. Simmons' interception came right after a pick by UVa.-Wise at the Bobcat 32.
"That is Nate making a critical play in crictail situation," Smith said. "If UVa.-Wise makes that play and scores, it could have drastically changed the outcome of the game. Some of those plays are plays we missed early in the year. Now we are making them."
Wesleyan would get their offense going as they put together a 98-yard drive for their first score.
The 'Cats took almost six minutes off the clock on a 12-play drive that ended on a four-yard pass from Ryan Deal to Anderson with 1:31 gone in the second quarter.
Tyler Fischer was good on his point-after-kick to make it a 10-7 game.
Another Wesleyan interception, this one by Trey Lee, set up the Bobcats' second touchdown late in the second quarter.
Lee picked off a pass at the Bobcat 48 with 1:36 remaining in the first half.
Deal completed a five-yard pass to Zach Schademan but misfired on his next two attempts which left Wesleyan facing a fourth-and-five situation at the Cavalier 47-yard line with just over a minute remaining in the half.
On fourth down, Deal connected on a 47-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Smith with 55 seconds left in the half.
Fischer was again good on his kick to make it a 14-10 game.
The game would go into the break at that score.
The Bobcats never let up in the third quarter as they scored two more touchdowns.
Taking the ball over at their own 20 following an UVa.-Wise punt, Wesleyan started the drive with 7:25 showing on the third-quarter clock.
A holding penalty on first down pushed the ball back to the 10, but a pass interference penalty on UVa.-Wise moved the ball to the 25-yard line.
Anderson lost a yard on a rush, but Deal connected with Smith again, this time for 34 yards to the Cavalier 42-yard line.
Anderson took the ball for a two-yard gain, and then on his next carry, he broke free for a 40-yard run for the score with 4:51 remaining in the third quarter.
Fischer was again true on his kick as Wesleyan increased their lead to 21-10.
On the Cavalier's next drive, they faced a fourth-and-two and their own 28. They elected to go for it in their own end and it cost them dearly as Tray Billups was stuffed after one yard by the Wesleyan defense.
It took the offense just one play to make Uva.-Wise pay as Anderson took the hand-off and scampered 29 yards for the touchdown.
Fischer's kick was good and Wesleyan took a 28-10 lead with 3:14 left in the third quarter.
The Cavaliers went three-and-out on their next drive giving Wesleyan the ball at their own 43 following a punt.
Anderson capped off the drive with a one-yard run with 12:16 left in the game.
Fischer's kick was good to give Wesleyan their 35-10 lead.
Wesleyan piled up 367 yards of offense while limiting UVa.-Wise to just 208 yards of offense.
Deal completed 15 of his 28 passes for 165 yards and two scores.
Anderson led the Wesleyan receivers with six catches for 44 yards and a score while Smith caught three passes for 83 yards and a score.
Brandon Grayson led the defense with 10 tackles including one for a loss.
The Bobcats have now won two in a row and three of their last four contests – their only loss being to FCS opponent East Tennessee State in that span.
Wesleyan is now 4-6 overall and 4-5 in the MEC.
They will close out their season next Saturday as they host Notre Dame College on Senior Day.
"Notre Dame will bring a good ball club to town," Smith concluded. "We will have our hands our full."
The game will kick-off at Cebe Ross Field at 1 p.m.