8-0 Western Maryland thumps Widener, 57-20

Victory is school-record 18th straight at home

October 31, 1999|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

For nearly 20 years, Widener has been sitting on a six-game winning streak against Western Maryland.

Consider the streak over.

Senior quarterback Ron Sermarini threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns, and junior tailback Joe Kendorski ran for two touchdowns and caught a third to help the Green Terror wallop the visiting Pioneers, 57-20, before 2,300 at Bair Stadium yesterday.

Western Maryland improved to 8-0 and won its 18th straight home game, breaking a 61-year-old school record. It was the Green Terror's 29th consecutive regular-season win.

The two teams last played in 1980, when Widener rolled to a 49-7 win to cap off six straight wins against Western Maryland.

Although many of the current Green Terror players were toddlers at the time, some recognized the importance of yesterday's victory against one of the most successful programs in Division III.

"They have a national reputation of being a great team," said Sermarini, a two-time Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Year who completed 27 of 40 passes and also rushed for 73 yards yesterday. "That was the extra boost we needed."

Kendorski, who hails from nearby Philadelphia, had a different reason for his performance.

"My parents picked up the paper and read how they're going to kick our butts," he said. "This was a personal thing for me."

Seeking to atone for a disappointing 19-0 home victory against winless Franklin & Marshall last week, Western Maryland opened the game's scoring with only 4: 17 gone in the first quarter.

The Green Terror drove 57 yards on five plays, ending with a 4-yard touchdown run up the middle by Kendorski (25 carries for 89 yards).

On the ensuing kickoff, Widener senior running back Jerome Robinson returned the ball 95 yards for his second career touchdown on a kickoff return. He last returned a kickoff for a score a year ago today.

Western Maryland scored the next 10 points, only to watch Pioneers junior fullback Randy Wilson plow a yard for a touchdown with 7: 18 left.

On fourth down with less than a minute left in the first half, Widener senior punter Kevin Wyszynski stood on his 22 and fielded a clean snap. But Green Terror junior running back Jeff Garza ran untouched from the right side and blocked the punt.

Sermarini needed only one play to toss a 12-yard dart to junior wide receiver Ryan Smith, giving Western Maryland a 24-14 lead at halftime.

Garza said the special teams unit wanted to make amends for Robinson's touchdown.

"It was a big play for us, especially after what we did on that return," Garza said. "We had been talking about getting the punt blocked and we were fortunate enough to get it."

In the second half, the Green Terror offensive machine kicked into overdrive. In a span of eight minutes in the third quarter, Kendorski ran 28 yards for a touchdown, another blocked punt led to a 6-yard touchdown pass from Sermarini to Kendorski, and a 27-yard field goal by junior Brent Sandrock gave Western Maryland a 41-14 lead.

After Widener junior quarterback Mike Granato (11-for-35 for 242 yards) connected with sophomore flanker Jim Jones on a 70-yard touchdown pass with 2: 54 left in the third quarter, Sermarini answered with a 55-yard bomb to sophomore wide receiver Teron Powell (seven receptions for 161 yards) to make it 48-20 with 22 seconds left in the quarter.

The loss was Widener's worst since 1931 and dropped the Pioneers to 5-3 -- the first time the school has lost three games in one season since 1993.

Widener coach Bill Zwaan said the key was the blocked punt before the end of the first half.

"It should've been 17-14 at the half," he said. "I didn't think it would have as big of an effect as it did, but I think our kids put their heads down a little bit."

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