BEREA, Ohio – The Baldwin Wallace University football opened the 2018 season in convincing manner as it defeated Alma (Mich.) College by a final score of 63-21 in the 41st Lee Tressel Shrine Classic on the brand new Tressel Field surface inside the George Finnie Stadium.
BW (1-0), who won its seventh season opener in the last 10 years, earned the first-ever victory between the schools. Alma (0-1) has now lost three of its last six openers.
Senior quarterback Jake Hudson (East Lake, Fla.) was named the Yellow Jacket Shrine Classic Player of the Game for the second staight season as he completed 20 of 28 passes for 225 yards with four touchdowns.
In addition to Hudson for BW, sophomore running back Jon Murray, Jr. (Cincinnati/Withrow) led the ground attack in his collegiate debut with 99 yards on 12 carries. Senior wide receiver Rob Wolfington (Rapids City, Mich./Elk Rapids) led the receiving corps with five catches for 97 yards with two touchdowns. The Yellow Jacket defense was led by junior defensive back Matt Dunning (Corapolis, Pa./Moon Area) and junior linebacker Josh Liberati (Lisbon/David Anderson) each with eight tackles.
The Scot offensive attack was led by junior quarterback Mason Ippel as he completed 16 of 25 passes for 282 yards with two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Steven Sowa rushed for 40 yards with one touchdown. Junior wide out Chase Hinkle, who was the Alma Shrine Classic Player of the Game, caught six passes for 152 yards with two touchdowns
The season got off to an explosive start for BW as senior wide receiver Jordan Leverette (Cleveland/John Adams) returned the opening kickoff for a school-record and Finnie Stadium-record 100 yards for a touchdown just 13 seconds in the opening period. The Yellow Jackets tacked on another score in the opening period when Hudson hooked up with Wolfington on a 15-yard pass play at the 6:00 mark. Junior placekicker Jimmy Marshall (Lakewood) converted both extra points.
In the second quarter BW added two more touchdowns. Hudson hit senior wide out Chad Steinwachs (Buffalo, N.Y./Williamsville East) with a five-yard pass that Steinwachs bobbled and kept one foot in for the score at 10:34. Hudson closed out the first half scoring when he found Wolfington for his second score at the 2:58 mark. Marshall added both extra points. The Scots scored their first touchdown of the game when Sowa scampered for two yards and the score with 43 seconds remaining. Senior placekicker Jacob Plisko added the point after.
Alma cut the lead in half to open the second half when Hinkle scored on a 16-yard pass play from Ippel at 12:28. Plisko tacked on the point after. The Yellow Jackets responded when junior running back Lyle Grant (Alden, N.Y./Central) scored his first career touchdown as he rushed for 21 yards at the 6:49 mark. Marshall added the extra point. The Scots answered back when Hinkle caught a 56-yard pass from Ippel at 5:09. BW closed out the third quarter scoring when Hudson connected with junior wide out Darion Greer (Toledo/Toledo Central Catholic) on a 21-yard pass play for Darion Greer's first career touchdown with 1:21 remaining.
It was all Yellow Jackets in the final quarter as they scored three more times. Grant scored his second touchdown on a 10-yard run at the 9:56 mark. Leverette scored his second touchdown of the game as he caught a 56-yard pass from junior quarterback Will Vance (Centerville) just 21 seconds later. Senior running back Troy Colucci (Conneaut) scored his first collegiate touchdown when he found pay dirt on a five-yard run with 1:01 remaining.
BW continues its three-game season opening homestand when it begins Ohio Athletic Conference play against Otterbein University on Saturday, September 8 at 6 p.m. That night, the Yellow Jackets will honor their first OAC Football Championship team with the 50th anniversary of the 1968 team.