COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – No starting backfield, no problem for the Ursinus College football team. Down their star quarterback and tailback, the Bears' fill-ins made sure they didn't miss a beat.
Jack Psenicska threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, Kyle Wiggins ran for a career-high 127 yards and a pair of scores, and Ursinus snapped a three-game skid in emphatic fashion, gashing McDaniel for a 37-16 Centennial Conference victory.
Octavious Carter produced six catches for a career-high 147 yards and a touchdown for the Bears (4-4, 3-4), who broke off one big play after another in keeping their Centennial/MAC Bowl Series hopes alive and well. Ursinus piled up 479 yards of offense and averaged an even 8.0 yards per play in defeating McDaniel (3-5, 2-5) for the 13th time in the last 14 seasons.
Psenicska showed no signs of nerves in being thrust into the spotlight following injuries to senior captain Thomas Garlick and back-up Aidan Klassen. The rookie took plenty of chances down the field and was rewarded for it with a pair of long touchdown strikes, one for 75 yards to tight end Matt Gallagher and another for 74 yards to Carter. Psenicska averaged 14 yards per attempt and a whopping 23.9 yards per completion on the day.
Marcus Weathers turned in another tenacious performance at the head of the Bears defense, racking up four tackles for loss and two sacks to run his team-leading total to 8.5
The Green Terror were first on the board in this one, capping a 12-play march with a 2-yard touchdown run from Daqwan Hill to make it 6-0 before Mitchell Bradford blocked the extra point.
Psenicska and the Bears answered with a 10-play, 82-yard drive of their own, which featured six straight carries by Wiggins and resulted in a six-yard scoring burst for the junior to make it 7-6.
Early in the second quarter, Psenicska dropped a perfect back-shoulder fade into the lap of Carter for a 34-yard gain on third-and-long, and Wiggins managed to gain the right edge and sprint into the end zone to make it 13-6.
Following a 43-yard field goal by McDaniel, Psenicska hooked up with Gallagher for a 75-yard touchdown, the big tight end snaring the ball around midfield and taking it the rest of the way for a critical score with 2:21 to go before halftime.
Psenicska continued his big-play ways on the second snap of the third quarter, finding Carter across the middle as the speedy sophomore outdistanced the McDaniel secondary for a 74-yard catch-and-run that made it 27-9.
Faced with a 4th-and-7 from the Green Terror 22 on their next drive, the Bears put the ball in Psenicska's hands once more. He did not disappoint, lofting a jump ball to the front left corner of the end zone that Zachary Throne corralled for his first career touchdown and a 34-9 advantage with 5:01 left in the third.
McDaniel responded with a touchdown before Dakota Wherrity booted home a 32-yard field goal, his second of the season, to cap the scoring.
Wiggins finished with 127 yards on a workmanlike 31 totes, and Gallagher's two receptions went for 87 yards. The Bears were forced to punt just once on the day, a perfectly placed kick by Mike Reilly that pinned McDaniel on its own 2-yard line.
Reilly led the way with nine tackles for Ursinus, which forced six McDaniel punts. Shane Jones had a pair of pass breakups, while Brett Capobianco and Brendan Shadle shared a sack. Noah Thomas forced a McDaniel fumble that was recovered by Capobianco.
The Bears are back at home for Senior Day next Saturday, when they take on Franklin & Marshall in a game with postseason implications.