This Saturday, Western football turned in an impressive 66-16 home victory over the Riverhawks of Northeastern State University.
Western was lighting up the scoreboard early and often in this one, jumping out to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter of play. One week after being smothered by the defense of Central Missouri, Western’s offense came out firing on all cylinders, moving the ball both on the ground and through the air.
Western was able to establish the running game early in this one, as sophomore running back Shamar Griffith capped off the first drive of the game with a 14-yard touchdown run, his first as a Griffon. It would not be the only time Griffith would find the endzone in this one, however, as the sophomore would go on to rush for 68 yards and two scores.
“We made it a point of emphasis to come out swinging and start fast and I think our guys responded well to the challenge,” senior quarterback Dom Marino said. “Our big guys up front really paved the way.”
Griffith was not alone in handling the ground game, as redshirt freshman running back James Bailey Jr. became the first Griffon running back to eclipse 100 yards rushing in a game since Griffith did so last year against Emporia State. Bailey rushed 16 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Marino added 66 yards on the ground as well. As a team, Western rushed for 326 yards and four touchdowns.
“What we did well was we were able to execute, and the line was able to get a really good push up front,” Bailey said. “The receivers blocked well off the edges, and we were able to read our keys and everything else took care of itself.”
Western was not just effective on the ground, with Marino and junior backup quarterback Wyatt Steigerwald combining for 286 yards through the air to go along with five touchdowns. Marino led the offense with 13 completions for 158 yards to go along with two touchdowns and one interception.
Once Western had all but put the game out of reach, Steigerwald came in to relieve Marino and proceeded to turn four completions into 128 yards and three touchdowns, including a five-yard scoring strike to senior receiver Gannon Cornley II.
“We learned what we could be if we put it all together,” Steigerwald said. “We didn’t play a perfect game by any means, but it showed what we are capable of if everyone does their job and executes.”
Junior wide receiver Carlos Thompson, one of the stars of the latest season of the hit Netflix docuseries “Last Chance U,” scored his first touchdown as a Griffon when he reeled in a 74-yard pass from Steigerwald.
This Saturday, Western (2-2) will continue their mini-homestand as they play host to the Ichabods of Washburn University (2-2) here at Spratt Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 P.M.