(OWENSBORO, Ky.) – Head Coach John Fankhauser has his first win of his career as the leading man of a football program as Walsh took down Kentucky Wesleyan 23-17 on Saturday afternoon. The Cavaliers (1-3, 1-1) jumped out to a 17-0 lead after the first quarter and held on as the Panthers (2-3, 1-2) chipped at the lead the rest of the way.
Koby Adu-Poku had another impressive day as he sparked the Cavaliers with a pair of touchdowns from 20 and 28 yards out in the opening frame. He finished the day with 158 yards – his second consecutive game over the century mark – on 26 carries for an average of 6.1 per rush.
The first of those went for a game-long of 30 yards on the second play from scrimmage to immediately put Walsh in Panther territory. Later in the drive, Kasey Tingler nailed a 34-yard field goal for an early 3-0 lead just 2:10 into the game.
Tingler went on to score 11 points for the Maroon and Gold as he was perfect on both extra points and added two more field goals of 30 and 34 yards. The second of those came just before the half and sent Walsh into the locker room with a 20-7 lead. The last came at the end of the third quarter and put the Cavs up 23-10.
Kentucky Wesleyan didn't go down quietly and scored its final touchdown with five minutes left in the fourth on a 9-yard pass. Walsh's next drive stalled out giving the Panthers one last chance with 53 seconds left on their own 28, but Marcus Shellenbarger was able to force and recover a fumble after a 15-yard run by Panther quarterback Mike McGee.
"I'm really proud of how our players bonded together the last two weeks," said Coach Fankhauser following the game. "We made the plays we had to make to win today. Defense and special teams were pivotal in swinging momentum."
The defense limited Kentucky Wesleyan to just 255 yards of total offense, most of which came through the air with 216 yards receiving on 22 completions. The Cavs were able to recover an additional two fumbles and sack McGee five times for a combined loss of 32 yards.
Shellenbarger was responsible for 2.5 of them that resulted in a net loss of 19 yards. He had six tackles on the day for team-high honors with Stephen Baugh, who also had a sack for a loss of seven yards.
Meanwhile the Maroon and Gold's front line was able to pave the way for 215 yards on the ground. That in turn helped the Cavs win the battle in time of possession with nearly 32 minutes of control.
Now the night games will start up for the Cavaliers as they enter the month of October. All four games at home and on the road will begin at 7 p.m. The first of those contests will come next week as Walsh entertains Ohio Dominican at Tom Benson Stadium.