|by Brent Harris • November 6, 2005|
It really meant nothing. Wabash was already in control of its final regular season home game against Denison, well on the way to a 52-0 domination and the final piece of a 7-0 North Coast Athletic Conference run. Senior quarterback Russ Harbaugh had already thrown 11 completed passes, including a touchdown pass to Geoff Walker.
Leading 21-0 two plays into the second quarter, Harbaugh pitched a ball toward his roommate and fellow senior Eric Summers that fell incomplete. Eight completions later (including two more TD tosses to Summers and Walker), Harbaugh left the game with 19 completions in 20 attempts for 313 yards.
And another rewrite of the record books.
Earlier in the season, Harbaugh played a major role in the Little Giants' record-setting 654 yards of total offense against Wooster in a 44-10 victory. Harbaugh threw for 452 yards, seven shy of All-American QB Jake Knott's '03 mark of 459. Mind you, however, Knott threw for 459 in a come-from-behind effort against Allegheny in a 54-45 loss to the Gators in 2000. That made Harbaugh’s 452 the most yards thrown in a Wabash victory.
Harbaugh had already crushed the single-season completion percentage records at Wabash. As a sophomore he hit on 148-of-237 passes for an single season-best 62.4 percent. One year later, he completed 144-of-230 passes for a new record of 62.6 percent.
Get out the eraser.
This year, Harbaugh has made the incomplete pass an endangered species. He's completed 203 pass. That's not a bad improvement from a previous season-best 148. But he's only thrown 285 attempts. How does that 71.2 percent completion percentage grab you?
The numbers are even more unbelievable when you toss in his 25 touchdown passes with only three interceptions. That's right, three interceptions. And forgive him on one pick, which came after the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Even the interceptions have come at a cost for the opposition. After every INT this season, Harbaugh has come back to lead the offense to a touchdown on the very next Wabash offensive series. Not a bad way to answer for a mistake.
Saturday's 19-of-20 effort by the senior broke the Wabash record for completion percentage in a single game that had stood for 20 years. Tom Vandergriff '87 went 9-for-10 against Taylor in 1985 to tie Tony Malandro's '84 9-of-10 performance against Centre College in 1980. Go back ten years in NCAC history and you find a 10-of-11 (90.9) effort by Earlham College's Mark Thompson as the best completion percentage in the league's history.
Now they both belong to Harbaugh.
What record did his miss Saturday? Chris Creighton's (yes, the former Kenyon quarterback and current chief architect of the 9-0 and NCAC champion Little Giants) 16 consecutive completion NCAC record.
There are two more records Harbaugh left on the table Saturday. But both are still well within reach.
Harbaugh will enter the 112th Monon Bell Classic Saturday as the third-leading single-season passer in Wabash history. Only Knott's 2,908 yards in 2001 and his 2,954 yards in 13 games in 2002 stand ahead of Harbaugh, who's thrown for 2,786 yards. With an average of 309 passing yards, it may be time to get out the eraser again.