COLUMBUS, OH. (WFIE) - The Kentucky Wesleyan College football team opened its season on Saturday morning with a thrilling contest in Columbus, Ohio. ODU escaped with a last second 13-9 victory over Wesleyan in a defensive battle. The Panthers long awaited start to the season was delayed one week due to Covid-19 protocols.
The Panthers (0-1) showed-off a tough, physical defense throughout the contest, allowing just 189 yards and 17 first downs. Dominican scored the lone touchdown of the first half on their second series of the game. An 11-play drive ended with a three-yard touchdown pass, but the extra point was missed, leaving the Panthers with 6-0 deficit.
Wesleyan saw their drives stall out until midway through the second quarter with they marched 59 yards downfield to give Chris Mangold a 22-yard field goal try with less than five minutes left in the half. Mangold converted as both teams exchanged possession before the end of the half.
Dominican came out the locker-room with a 11-play, 42-yard scoring drive, ending on Travis Whittaker’s one-yard touchdown run. The field position battle continued into the final period. With 12 minutes left in the game, the Panthers were back on offense. Wiley Cain orchestrated a 63-yard scoring drive to pull within one possession.
The Panthers converted on four third downs during the drive and once on fourth down. On fourth and goal from the ODU four-yard line, Cain found Michael Walker free in the front corner of the end zone for the first touchdown of the season. The extra point was blocked and the Panthers were down 13-9 with less than eight minutes left in the game.
The defense came up big again, forcing a punt which was blocked. Unfortunately, after the Panthers couldn’t control possession as the ball bounced over the line of scrimmage, ODU took over on their own 40 with a fresh set of downs. The defense continued to charge, forcing another punt, this time with 2:24 left on the clock.
The Panthers had 98 yards to travel with two minutes. Cain and the Panthers converted on two fourth downs in the final two minutes to get a chance at the win. With five seconds left the Panthers were on the ODU 24 yard line. Cain dropped a perfect pass into a double team of Peyton Peters in the back corner of the end zone, the catch was out of bounds and the clock hit zero.
Cain finished the game 23 of 45 passing for 204 yards and one touchdown. Cain connected with six different receivers as Peters made six catches for 41 yards. Landon Newman rushed for 25 yards while making three catches for 54 yards.
The Panthers will return home on Saturday to host Findlay. Kick-off at Steele Stadium is scheduled for 6PM CT.