Wilkinson, Heidelberg’s defense bring heat against Wilmington

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO Heidelberg’s Josh Cross gets by Willimington’s Bryan Gonzalez and Tavion Bryant Saturday at Hoernemann Stadium.

Heidelberg defensive lineman Verondtae Wilkinson seemed unwilling to bask in any praise after Saturday’s game.

Maybe it was because he’d taken down enough Creditt.

Wilkinson sacked Quakers quarterback Luke Creditt four times, had six tackles for a loss and eight stops total as Heidelberg dropped Wilmington, 37-14 at Hoernemann Stadium.

Wilkinson became the first Heidelberg player to record four sacks in a game since Ben Poirier against Marietta in 2012.

“I give that to my coaches, man,” Wilkinson said. “(Defensive coordinator Branden Jakubcin), my D-line coach (Matt) Grieves, they prepared us well for the game. We adjusted well, called the right plays, plays that allowed me to make the sacks. Give it to them.”

Overall, Heidelberg sacked Creditt 8 1/2 times and had 13 tackles for a loss.

“That’s what we knew we had to do,” said Heidelberg coach Scott Donaldson, whose team improved to 6-2, 5-2 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. “We were so banged up, and we had four starters out in the secondary. We knew we had to get pressure on the quarterback to have a chance, and these guys went nuts up front. I’m really proud of them.”

Wilmington coach Bryan Moore, a former Heidelberg assistant who is close friends with Donaldson, said he expected the Student Princes to bring pressure.

“We knew it was coming,” Moore said. “We talked all week about how we wanted to deal with it. Did we want to go with multiple receivers, get the ball out quick? Did we want to move the pocket, did we want to mass protect? We tried to throw a bunch at them, give them some different looks, but (Jakubcin) and that staff do a great job.”

Heidelberg’s offense came out hot, scoring the first two times it touched the ball. Short first-quarter touchdown runs by Keivon Belcher and Cameron Vocke staked the Student Princes to an early 14-0 lead.

“That was big for us, to get some heat going, get some juice going,” Donaldson said. “After last week’s loss (to Marietta), we needed some positives early to get some juices going.”

Clyde graduate Austin Baker added a 45-yard field goal in the first minute of the second quarter, which pushed Heidelberg’s advantage to 17-0. It stayed that way until the final minute of the first half.

The Quakers — behind a gritty Creditt — engineered a 16-play, 95-yard drive that drained 5:26 off the clock. Creditt capped the drive with a 7-yard pass to PJ Meyer in the back of the end zone with 26 seconds left until halftime.

Wilmington went to the break trailing 17-7.

“I thought our guys did a heck of a job of battling their way back,” Moore said. “Not textbook football, but found a way to scratch and claw to get themselves back into halftime in a competitive game.”

Wilmington had a couple of chances, early in the second half, to draw even closer to the Princes. Creditt drove the Quakers to the HU 25 on the first possession of the second half, but a fluttering pass to the left corner was intercepted by Michael Warden inside the Heidelbeg 5. Another Wilmington drive stalled after reaching its own 40.

“Just missed opportunities; I talked to the kids about that afterwards,” Moore said. “There’s a difference in the two programs at that point. We got an opportunity where we had to make plays. They weren’t easy plays … they were contested plays that they were making that we weren’t.”

Vocke’s second touchdown of the game — coming with 3:14 left in the third — put Heidelberg up 24-7. Creditt answered with a 3-yard touchdown run to cut the Heidelberg lead to 24-14 early in the fourth quarter, but two HU touchdowns in the fourth quarter removed all doubt.

Demetrius Magee caught a 24-yard touchdown pass — one in which he fought off numerous tacklers to reach the end zone — with 11:09 left in regulation. The touchdown catch was the 27th of Magee’s career, and tied him with current Arena Football League receiver and former NFL player Michael Preston for the program record.

Magee finished with five catches for 57 yards.

Stoyle capped the scoring by hitting Vocke in stride down the near sideline for an 80-yard touchdown completion.

Stoyle finished 21 of 34 for 317 yards and two touchdowns, while Vocke had five catches for 110 yards and 11 rushes for 56 yards.

“Stoyle is Stoyle, that’s what he does,” Donaldson said. “We’re gonna put the ball in his hands and have him win us games, and he did.”

Creditt was impressive, completing 14 of 27 passes for 117 yards, but was intercepted twice. He also ran 20 times for 69 yards, despite being sacked seven times. The Quakers’ Geno Hinton had 12 carries for 75 yards.

The Quakers move to 2-6, 1-6 in the OAC under Moore, who is in his first season. Moore, who also has Heidelberg veterans Corey Fillipovich and Matt Byrne on his coaching staff, said it was strange going against a staff he knows so well.

“For the most part, the whole week, we talked about how it felt like an intrasquad scrimmage,” Moore said. “(Fillipovich) obviously knows their defense pretty well, I know coach (Jason) Lewis’ offense pretty well, so it felt like we were preparing to go in the back yard and settle it like we used to.”