Junior quarterback Buck Smith completed 27-of-40 passes for a career-high 276 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Washington University football team to a 41-28 victory over Lake Forest College in the season opener on Saturday night at Francis Field.
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Smith connected with senior Dan Cardone on a six-yard touchdown pass to cap an 11-play, 71-yard drive to make it 7-3 with 5:02 left in the first quarter. Lake Forest answered back when quarterback Jeff Ziemnik hit Tim Cirone on a 25-yard strike to regain the 9-7 lead.
Washington University answered with a score of its own on the next possession. Sophomore Micah Anderson gave the Bears good field position with a kick return to the Lake Forest 48-yard line. Six plays later, Smith connected with senior Michael Casper on a fade route in the end zone for a 13-yard TD to make it 14-9 midway through the second.
The Bears’ offense continued to click as Washington U. scored on its third-straight possession, pushing the lead to 20-9. Senior Gabe Murphy capped a 16-play, 80-yard drive with a three-yard TD run.
Washington U. totaled 246 yards in the first half, including 159 yards on 18-of-25 passing by Smith. WU’s defense allowed 74 yards of total offense in the first half, including -1 on the ground.
Early in the third quarter, sophomore Matt Mangini fumbled a punt return on the Bears’ 10-yard line that was recovered by Lake Forest. Ziemnik connected with Cirone for the second time on a three-yard pass to trim the lead to 20-15.
The Bears, who had a 35:24-24:36 advantage in time of possession, capitalized on a costly penalty by Lake Forest inside the 10-yard line on the next possession. On fourth down, senior Michael Elliott’s field goal attempt was blocked, but the Foresters were called for roughing the kicker. On the ensuing play, sophomore Matt Glenn scored from three yards out for his first career TD.
A one-yard touchdown run by senior Scottie Guthrie midway through the fourth quarter pushed the Washington U. lead to 34-15. Lake Forest (0-1) would not go way as Jeff Waldman scored from one yard out, and Ziemnik connected with Dan Carter for a five-yard TD to trim the lead to 34-28 with 4:40 left.
The Bears totaled 434 yards of offense in the victory, their highest total since recording 454 yards against LaGrange College on Oct. 7, 2006. Senior Joe Lubelski had six catches for a career-high 101 yards, while Cardone added six catches for 39 yards. Defensively, junior Brent Sensenich had a team-high eight tackles, while sophomore Tim Machan and freshman Brandon Brown each added an interception. The Bears defense allowed just 17 yards rushing on 22 attempts. An announced crowd of 2,448 fans was in attendance at Francis Field.
Washington University (1-0) returns to action on Sat., September 8 at Westminster College. Game time is set for 1 p.m. at Priest Field in Fulton, Mo.