Little Giants Alone Atop NCAC
by Howard W. Hewitt
October 25, 2008
Wabash College (7-0, 5-0) won its second straight North Coast Athletic Conference showdown in as many weeks. The Little Giants forced turnovers and the offense capitalized to hand Wooster (5-2, 3-1) its first conference loss, 45-24.
See photo albums here, here, here, and here. Bachelor photographer Alex Moseman also provided photos for a full album, click here. Saturday was also Family Day with lots of parents, families and friends enjoying a full day of activity. Click here and here for a look at photos.
The Fighting Scots came to Crawfordsvile a confident football team with a chance to end the Wabash NCAC win streak. Wabash, now owners of 15 straight league victories, made sure the visitors knew it wasn’t going to be easy from the first tick of the clock.
In a tone-setting drive, Wabash drove 62 yards in five plays on the strength of Evan Sobecki’s 15 and 16 yard runs. Then following a Matt Hudson carry of 14 yards, Sobecki scampered 17 more for the score, 7-0.
"It felt fantastic," Sobecki said of the opening drive. "It was my first start of the year and I wanted to get it off on the right track. We wanted to score on Wooster at the start. The O-line was awesome. I think the running backs in general, were all running the ball really well."
Sobecki led the the attack with 72 yards but was hit hard in the second quarter limiting his play until the second half. Derrick Yoder stepped up in the second quarter garnering 71 yards and two short touchdown runs. Bobby Kimp added 69 more and a score.
Wabash rushed for 239 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver Kody LeMond picked up his 14th TD of the year, but this one was on the ground and came at a key point in the game.
The Scots came in with bagpipes playing hoping to nab the NCAC driver’s seat for a playoff spot. The defense had other ideas. Wabash forced four fumbles and recovered two. The defense picked off four passes.
"I think our offense did a great job on the opening series getting the ball down there and punching one in on them," Senior defensive back Chad Peterman said. "I thought that was really good for our momentum. Then our defense came in and got a three and out and I thought that was really great for the start of the game."
But Wooster quickly responded with an Austin Holter to Mike Francescangeli 10-yard score. Wabash got three on a Drew Oehler 42-yard field goal, but the Scots took the lead when Holter ran for 6 yards, 14-10. Yoder then added his two scores to close out the half.
Wooster took the second half kick, scored and pulled within a touchdown at 17-24. After alternating possessions, Wabash went on a 49-yard, 8 play drive with a bit of a surprise ending. Hudson mixed the pass with Brock Graham and Sobecki carrying the ball effectively. But after Sobecki was stopped for no gain on the drive’s seventh play at the three-yard line, the offense showed something new.
Hudson faked a handoff to Sobecki into the right side, but LeMond came streaking across the backfield and took the ball around the left end for the score, 31-17.
Kimp added his touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but Wooster wouldn’t go away. Zack Gust pulled in a tipped Austin Holter pass for 30 yards, 38-24. The Scots managed to hold Wabash to a three-and-out and were again driving the ball.
But Derrin Slack changed the complexion of the game and sealed the win when he picked off a Holter pass at the 22 and returned it 78 yards to remove any mystery in this one’s outcome, 45-24.
Adrian Frederick had two interceptions in the waning moments.
"It’s one of those things where we didn’t have any (forced turnovers) last week so we really wanted to try to focus on and get the ball back to our offense," Peterman said of the effort.
Peterman also left with lots of respect for the Scot offense which rolled up 420 total yards. "I think they had the best offense we’ve seen this year. With a quarterback who is able to run that adds a new dimension we hadn’t faced all season. They had good receivers and they tried to establish the running game, so they’re a pretty good offense."
Holter hit on 21 of 41 passes for two touchdowns but also had four interceptions. He was the team’s leading rusher with 73 yards.
The Wabash defense was led by Dan Ryan Wood’s nine tackles. Peterman and David Mann added seven tackles apiece. Rich Lehman, Jake Martin and Chris Schweigel each had five stops.
Wabash now controls its own destiny enroute to a possible fourth straight NCAC championship. Last week's win at Wittenberg combined with Saturday's victory over Wooster puts Wabash in control of the conference title chase. The Little Giants host Oberlin Saturday and then travels to Hiram.
"We’ve had a tough stretch here, probably three of the best teams on our schedule right in a row," Coach Erik Raeburn said. "After a tough emotionally draining, physical win last week on the road, I was really proud of how our guys bounced back. They put that game behind them and had a great week of practice in preparation for a great Wooster team."
Results: Wabash 45, Wooster 24