Playing through pain, McGaughey pilots Widener
CHESTER » By early in the third quarter, Sean McGaughey’s day was done. It was not his choice.
The sophomore quarterback from Widener suffered what he called a separation in his right (throwing) shoulder less than five minutes into the second half of the Pride’s 34-21 victory over Misericordia Saturday afternoon at Quick Stadium.
The full extent of the injury will not be known until McGaughey undergoes a complete examination Monday.
Amazingly, though, McGaughey threw two passes after he was injured on a late hit by Misericordia defensive tackle Thomas Anderson, including his second TD of the game, a 35-yard strike to Montrell Hicks-Taylor that gave the Pride (21, 2-0 MAC) a 21-0 lead from which the Cougars would never recover.
“The adrenaline was pumping enough to throw that last ball to Montrell,” McGaughey said.
Widener coach Mike Kelly was not surprised McGaughey was able to throw two passes after he was hurt. Kelly also was concerned for McGaughey’s welfare.
“He’s a tough kid and a smart kid,” Kelly said. “As soon as he let the ball go, he reached for (his shoulder). As soon as I called for the extra point I yelled right at the athletic trainer (A.J. Duffy III), ‘Get to Sean right now.’”
The TD pass capped a big day for the Maryland native. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 314 yards, 25 yards shy of his career-best, and two touchdowns, both to Hicks-Taylor. The pair teamed up on a 74-yard pass play in the second quarter to give Widener a 14-0 lead at the break.
Hicks-Taylor had a career day. The senior wide receiver caught eight passes for 196 yards and the two TDs. Hicks-Taylor came into the game with nine receptions for 153 yards and one touchdown in the first two games of the season.
“I have a good guy who challenges me every day in practice,” Hicks-Taylor said. “I’m talking about (defensive back) Jordan Powell. Going against him in practice makes me that much better when it’s time to come out on the field for the game.”
McGaughey and Hicks-Taylor have developed quite a bond in the nine games they have played together. Hicks-Taylor has become McGaughey’s go-to guy, and he usually comes through.
“The dude’s fast,” McGaughey said of Hicks-Taylor. “It’s nice to have a guy like that who can stretch the field. Our guys in the slot, like James Gillespie, are good, too. It’s hard to D-up on Montrell and everyone else we have.”
“We do have a great connection,” Hicks-Taylor said. “We know what the other is doing.”
The question is will that McGaughey-to-Hicks-Taylor connection be available when the Pride travels to Reading next Saturday for a MAC showdown with undefeated Albright (3-0, 2-0) at Shirk Stadium. The Lions are receiving votes in the D3football.com top 25.
Kelly hopes McGaughey can go, but if not, Kelly knows he has a more than capable backup in Graham Jespersen. The sophomore filled in nicely after McGaughey left the game. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 54 yards and carried the ball six times for 68 yards, which included an impressive 34-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring for the Pride.
“We’ve always had great confidence in him,” Kelly said of Jespersen. “Last year when we got thin in the receiver corps with injuries, we moved him to receiver as a true freshman, so he has a perspective now that’s a little different. He’s seen the routes and things from both angles. We knew that we had a good player there and we’re fortunate that we have two guys that can step in and make plays.”
The Pride also ran the ball for a season-high 220 yards to give Widener 588 total yards, but it was not a perfect day for the offense. The Pride had the ball inside the Misericordia five-yard line twice in the first half and came away with no points. Kicker Michael Raczak had an extra point and a 28-yard field goal attempt blocked.
The defense struggled in the fourth quarter. The Cougars scored all of their points and had 195 of their 423 total yards in the final frame.
“We’re still Kelly said. a work in progress,”
Widener wide receiver Montrell Hicks-Taylor, pictured in a game against Rowan last year, accounted for two touchdowns and 196 receiving yards Saturday in the Pride’s 34-21 win over Misericordia.