After a 15-month sideline, JCU Football opens 2021 spring season with a win


JCU Sports Information

Jake Floriea drops back to pass against Baldwin Wallace at Don Shula Stadium on March 12, 2021.

Zachary Horvath, Staff Reporter

Even after not playing for over a year, John Carroll University Head Football Coach Rick Finotti had his team prepared to take on their cross-town rivals, the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets on March 12 at Don Shula Stadium. The players also did their part to get back on the field, even if it is for an abbreviated, five-game season.

“Our players did everything to ensure safety,” Finotti said, “sacrificing time and personal freedoms to create a good environment for us.” 

JCU displayed toughness after a late scare in the fourth quarter from BW and won 28-17.

Junior running back Deven Limerick got things rolling for the Streaks at the start. Limerick gave his team a great amount of momentum from the opening kick with a 66-yard run back. That set up a short drive for senior quarterback, Jake Floriea. He found sophomore Matt Buser with an 11-yard touchdown catch to put JCU up 7-0 at the end of one. Buser was a Swiss Army knife all game for the Blue and Gold. 

With 12:25 left to play, Baldwin Wallace crept close down the stretch with a 48-yard strike from Keagan Armitage to wide receiver Darius Stokes, but the Blue Streaks were up for the task. 

John Carroll got the ball back with roughly eight minutes left in the game after senior Kyle Ulshafer forced a key fumble on Armitage to regain possession. 

JCU went down the field methodically, and Buser effectively put the game away with a quick one-yard punch into the end zone with only three and half minutes remaining. 

The Blue Streak defense also made a number of crucial stops that slowed down any potential momentum swing. Ulshafer’s fumble recovery came at the most opportune moment in the ball game, but other members of the defense stepped up as well. 

Junior defensive back Nate Leopold was a terror all night long. Leopold had seven total tackles, with one being for a loss. He also added a pass breakup and an important blocked field goal attempt that led to a return for a touchdown for sophomore Josh McLean. Senior Tyshawn Jones also got in on the action with an interception of Armitage. Last year, the defense only allowed an astounding 11.5 points per game.

The star for Baldwin Wallace was Stokes. He was simply unguardable, reeling in nine catches for 140 yards and one trip to the pylon that brought the Yellow Jackets back into the game in the final quarter. Jon Murray Jr. also had a nice game, rushing for 95 yards on 23 carries.

After the game, Finotti said, “Football is so much passion. It’s what’s right in the world. They gave us everything they had. But credit to Baldwin Wallace. Both teams battled and played really hard. It was a physical football game.”

John Carroll will need a lot of passion this coming Friday, March 19, when they take on No. 3 Mount Union in Alliance at 7 p.m. Baldwin Wallace travels to face off against Marietta at 7 p.m.