ROCHESTER — With scouts from two of the major college programs that are recruiting him watching from the sidelines, Qadree Ollison puts on a show.
Ollison, the senior running back who will make his Division I college football destination known Monday, ran for four touchdowns and 195 yards on 20 carries Friday as Canisius opened its season with a 42-15 victory over McQuaid before an estimated 1,200 at Tom Seymour Field.
Scouts from Penn State and Pittsburgh were on hand to watch Ollison, who will announce where he is verbally committing to college in a ceremony at Canisius on Monday afternoon. He has said his finalists are Pittsburgh, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse and Wisconsin.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Ollison had originally planned to visit Penn State today but after Friday’s game said that he would not be. He visited Pitt on Monday. Asked whether that was something that could be read into, Ollison said, “We’ll just wait until Monday.”
Ollison’s team, which national and regional polls have ranked as the best in the state, opened its season with a dominating victory behind a typically outstanding performance by the running back who was named Buffalo News co-Player of the Year last season.
“I think it pumped up my teammates more than it did me,” Ollison said of the presence of the college recruiters. “It was great that they came out here and watched. I think it made some of my teammates want to go harder, so they could be seen as well. I think it made us play better.”
McQuaid, which went 4-4 last season including a 36-17 opening loss at Canisius, could not get much offense going against the Crusaders early, going three-and-out on its first three possessions and surrendering a safety after a bad punt snap following its second stalled drive. It failed to record a first down until late in the second quarter.
Ollison provided the early offense with a 29-yard cutback run on Canisius’ opening drive and added a 65-yard score in which he burst up the middle and went untouched to the end zone.
Ollison added touchdowns of 8 and 16 yards in the third quarter to give Canisius a 35-9 lead. He did not play in the fourth quarter.
“‘Q’ is ‘Q.’ He’s going to run hard and play hard,” said Canisius coach Rich Robbins. “We’re really happy with where he’s at and the O-line played well.”
Canisius coaches will certainly not consider this a flawless performance. McQuaid scored two touchdowns on returns of turnovers (one interception, one fumble) and blocked three Canisius extra points.
“I was a little disappointed in our sloppiness and our discipline with some things, but we’ll get it cleaned up,” said Robbins. “Little details around the edges. I’m happy with the win, but we’ve got to get better.”
Canisius’ starting quarterback was Jakob Loucks, the 5-foot-9, 165-pound junior transfer from Cornwall, Ont. (across the border from Massena in New York’s North Country), who stays with a host family while attending Canisius. He was named the starter this week and he had a very solid performance (8-of-13 passing for 135 yards).
Loucks had two interceptions, the first of which bounced in and out of the hands of a receiver and into the air, where it was plucked by junior Amani Lawrence and returned 35 yards for a score to make it a 14-6 game in the second quarter. Loucks had an interception in the second quarter in what appeared to be a mix-up, as McQuaid defenders were the only players near a deep pass down the right side.
Loucks threw one touchdown, a pretty, 15-yard strike to junior TJ Wheatley in the second quarter to give Canisius a 21-6 lead.
“It felt great,” Loucks said of earning the start, “but it’s a lot of pressure, but you’ve got to work through it. … I felt I did an OK job.”
Canisius returns to Rochester next Friday in a tremendous early matchup with defending Section V Class AA champion Aquinas.