|by Howard Hewitt • November 8, 2008|
HIRAM, Ohio – Wabash’s Wes Chamblee returned the game’s opening kickoff 91 yards to start an offensive onslaught overwhelming Hiram, 63-0. The win clinched the North Coast Athletic Conference title outright for the Little Giants and sent them into the battle for the Monon Bell undefeated for the second straight year.
Wabash (9-0, 7-0) clinched its fourth straight conference title last week defeating Oberlin. Saturday’s win over Hiram (2-7, 1-5) gives the Little Giants sole ownership of the league crown and the NCAA Div. III playoff bid. (View photos from the game here, here, here and here.)
Finishing off the conference portion of the schedule now allows the Little Giants to concentrate on the 115th matchup with DePauw in the Monon Bell Classic. The Little Giants will be making their second straight playoff appearance the following week.
First-year coach Erik Raeburn admitted getting to this point of the season is exciting.
"Now our guys are looking forward to the Bell game," Raeburn said. "It’s such a great game. Our players are excited to play in it. I’m excited that I finally get to coach in my first one. "
Wabash, visiting Hiram for the first time in six years, dominated the game on the ground, scoring six rushing touchdowns.
Evan Sobecki and Adam Pilli each passed the 100-yard mark. Sobecki ran the ball 13 times for 139 yards and scored two touchdowns. Pilli ran 12 times for 129 yards and two scores. The Little Giants accumulated 365 yards rushing to dominate the Terriers.
The pace was really set with the opening kickoff though when Chamblee opened the game at the nine-yard line and returned it for a score. He had been close on a number of returns throughout the season.
"The guys in front of me did a great job blocking," Chamblee said. "The hole was humongous. There was nowhere for me to go but the endzone.
"It felt great finally to get through and run by the kicker finally and get to the endzone."
Wabash added four more scores in the first half. Bobby Kimp and Derrick Yoder scored on the ground to run the first quarter score to 21-0. Then Sobecki scored on runs of 11 and 1 yards to close out the half, 35-0.
Brock Graham caught a five-yard Matt Hudson toss for the only passing score of the game to open the third period. Kimp added a 17-yard touchdown run before Pilli personally finished off the scoring with 3- and 4-yard touchdown runs
Wabash piled up 562 yards of total offense to Hiram’s 164. The 365-74 yard rushing totals really told the game’s story.
Greg Hurst and Bryan Watson helped lead the defensive shutout with 8 and 7 tackles, respectively. Jared Lange and Chad Peterman had five tackles apiece.
Photos - (top left) Wes Chamblee started the game with a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He added two receptions for 47 yards, including a 32-yard grab in the third score of the game for Wabash.
(Bottom right) Senior running back Adam Pilli ran for a career-best 129 yards and 2 TDs in the Wabash victory.