Yellow Jackets Football Is 3-0 for First Time Since 2009

Saleem Messiah, Staff Writer

The Yellow Jackets were able to improve to 3-0 on September 18, 2021, after beating Franklin Pierce, 38-19. It’s the first time they’ve been 3-0 since 2009.

Franklin Pierce received the ball first to start the drive. Quarterback Drew Campanale threw a 3-yard pass on the first play of the game to Tyvarius Daniels. The offense then went on to have a 17-play drive against the Yellow Jackets defense before scoring an 18-yard pass to Conner Baldasaro on the second and fifteen from the 18-yard line. The score was 7-0 after they hit the extra point, with Franklin Pierce in the lead.

The Yellow Jackets offense was led by the first-year offensive coordinator coach Matthew Diniak. The offense started on the 31-yard line opening the drive up with a 13-yard run for Samad Davila. After picking up the first down, the Yellow Jackets had two straight short-gain plays before quarterback Jayson Demild threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Jaheim McGuire on third and two, making it an even score of 7-7 after AIC got the extra point.

Despite AIC’s defense letting up a few passes, the Yellow Jackets ended up getting off the field a little bit faster. They were on the field for only nine plays after they caused a fumble and recovered it to give the ball back to the Yellow Jackets’ offense.

The AIC offensive line took the field again, starting their drive on the 24-yard line. They started the drive off with a significant gain of 16 yards. The offense was on the field for 8 more plays leading into the second quarter before Jaheim McGuire scored again on a 23-yard touchdown pass. The score was now 14-7 after making the extra point.

The Yellow Jackets huddle during an offensive time out. (Mike Lavatto)

Franklin Pierce’s offense took the field again looking to put points on the board, which they did. With a balanced offensive attack of running and passing the ball, E.J. Burgess capitalized on an 11-play drive with a 1-yard run, making the score 14-13 after they missed the extra point.

AIC relied heavy on the run during this drive. Chase Speller was able to cap off the drive on a 5-yard touchdown run, making the score 21-13.

The Yellow Jackets’ defense yet again was able to hold Franklin Pierce to no points after a three and out. AIC’s offense took the field again on the 44-yard line with three minutes and forty seconds left to go in the half. The offense was faced with three different penalties on that drive; they were in a deep hole of first and forty-five at one point during the drive. The offense only ran six plays during that drive before the half ended with no more points to add to the score.

Starting the second half, AIC’s offense received ball on the 42-yard line. The offense went on to have a 7-play drive ending it with Demild finding Speller wide open in the back of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown. The score was now 28-13.

The Yellow Jackets’ defense stayed in the backfield on the Franklin Pierce first offensive possession of the second half, causing them to punt. AIC’s offense then took the field for only a 4-play drive after Demild found Jahvon Adams wide open on a fade route for a touchdown of 55 yards. The score was now 35-13.

The Franklin Pierce offense took the field yet again looking to put some points on the board. But during an eight-play drive, Franklin Pierce came away with no points. A sack on the fourth down turned the ball back over to the AIC’s offense on the 45-yard line.

AIC’s offensive drive started with two minutes and fifty-three seconds left in the third quarter and poured over into the fourth. After scoring in thirteen plays, the score was called back due to a penalty. The offense then went six more plays before settling for a field goal, bringing the score to 38-13.

The Yellow Jackets during half-time. (Mike Lavatto)

Franklin Pierce took the ball on the 25-yard line with eight minutes, twenty-seven seconds left to play. The drive went for thirteen plays before Alexander Cole scored a 14-yard run, bringing the score to 38-19.

After Franklin Peirce scored, it left just over two minutes on the clock. Both AIC and Franklin Pierce got a shot at a short offensive possession before the game ended without another score. The final score was 38-19.

I asked quarterback Jayson Demild to comment on the difference between the mindset of the offense now versus the 2019 season, and how it felt to be able to score at the rate they’ve been scoring.

“Through Coach K’s time here as the head coach, we’ve been able to change the culture of this team,” Demild said. “It’s no longer the defensive side and the offensive side. We’re now one team and for the first time since I’ve been here, we’re playing for each other, and we have each other’s backs. Our offensive coordinator Coach Diniak, has done a great job implementing his system and holding us to a standard each and every day. We trust in what he’s doing and we’re working hard at getting better every day.”

Demild also hoped the momentum from the win against Franklin Pierce could continue. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re definitely on the right path, looking forward to having a great week of practice leading up to the Bentley game this upcoming Saturday at home. They’re a good team, but I like my chances with my guys over anyone.”

I asked wide receiver Jaheim McGuire why he thinks the offense has been clicking so well, and how AIC can keep improving their offense. “The key to the offense clicking [was] spreading the ball to our weapons,” McGuire said. “To keep improving, we need to limit penalties and mistakes.”

The Yellow Jackets will face Bentley, also 3-0, in AIC’s home opener this Saturday, September 25 at noon.