A fumble and blocked punt recovery by Dwight Ausbrooks in the first quarter set up two quick St. John's scores and mistaken-ridden Wilson never mounted a threat as the Cadets piled up a 31-0 home victory yesterday.
Wilson errors were so costly in the season-opener for both teams that St. John's Coach Donnie Waldron said he still doesn't know much about his offense.
"Offensively, we didn't play that well. I'm kind of disappointed about that," Waldron said. "We just exploited the weaknesses they had. We were playing at a high enough hitting level to do that."
The typical first-game sloppiness began when St. John's Mark Covington, the game's leading rusher with 77 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, fumbled the first punt and the Tigers' Damon Roberts recovered on the Wilson 39.
After Wilson lost eight yards on three downs, Tiger punter Courtney Morrison booted the ball into a blocker, Ausbrooks recovering for St. John's on the Wilson 26.
The Cadet offense sputtered and Mike Bedford came in to angle a 32-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
On undersized Wilson's next possession, St. John's Kevin Mank sacked Wilson quarterback Terrance Wilson and knocked the ball loose for Ausbrooks, who picked it up but was downed on the four.
On St. John's next play, fullback Dave Waldron cracked through a hole off right tackle and fell over the goal line for a touchdown. Bedford, who went 4-for-4 on conversions, made good for a 10-0 lead after 10:26.
Wilson, who completed two of 12 passes, tossed one of his two interceptions to Richard Gray in the second quarter and the Cadets started a drive from midfield.
A 25-yard run by Waldron, who gained 49 yards and a touchdown on six carries, put St. John's inside the 10. Billy Burnette fumbled on the goal line two plays later and Wilson's Daryl Brown recovered.
But Cadet Dan Hillegas pounced on a fumble by Michael Benjamin in the end zone on the next play for another St. John's touchdown and a 17-0 halftime lead.
After discussing new strategy with Coach Waldron, Cadet quarterback Ray Daly, who completed four of seven passes, engineered a running attack that covered 85 yards in eight plays, culminated by Covington's 30-yard scramble for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead.
Hillegas set up the final Cadet touchdown when he blocked a Wilson punt and recovered on the Tiger nine. After an illegal procedure penalty, Daly broke around the right side for a 14-yard touchdown run with 48 seconds left in the third quarter to end the scoring.