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No. 13 Wittenberg holds off Denison

Alex MInton  |  Photo by Brett Dunbar
Alex MInton | Photo by Brett Dunbar

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio--  Denison has waited a long time to leave Wittenberg with a victory.  That wait just got a bit longer.  No. 13 Wittenberg capitalized on two first half turnovers en route to a 28-12 win at Edwards-Maurer Field.  The win moved the Tigers to 4-0 while Denison dropped to 3-1.

Denison entered the game boasting the No. 2 ranked offense in Division III and had only committed one turnover in three games.  On Denison's first offensive possession of the game, facing a 3rd-and-5 from their own 44-yard line, Canaan Gebele was sacked and fumbled the ball.  Wittenberg was there for the recovery on the DU 41 and on their first offensive play, Wittenberg's D. Sarley broke free for a 41-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers the 7-0 lead.

Entering the second quarter, Wittenberg broke off three straight plays for over 14 yards that placed them deep inside DU territory.  On 2nd-and-10 from the Denison 20, Jake Kennedy found L. Duncan for the touchdown to take a 14-0 lead.

On their next possession, DU drove into Tiger territory once again but on second down from the Tiger 30, Gebele threw his first interception in 118 attempts this season.

Luckily, Denison freshman cornerback Peyton Vining was there to return the favor.  On the first play of Wittenberg's ensuing drive, he picked off Kennedy near midfield, giving Denison new life.

The turnover led to Denison's first scoring drive of the night as Pat Kramer connected on a 29-yard field goal which capped off an 11-play 41 yard drive.

Just as DU was hoping to gain some momentum, Wittenberg responded with a 9-play 71-yard drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Kennedy to Duncan with only 20 seconds left in the second quarter.

Trailing 21-3 at the intermission, Kramer booted another field goal, this time from 24-yard on Denison's first possession of the third quarter.

The biggest drive of the night came early in the fourth quarter when Denison, who had methodically marched 84 yards in 16 plays was faced with 4th and goal from the Wittenberg 2-yard line.  Needing a touchdown to make it a one-score game, the Big Red went for it but Gebele was stopped just shy of the goal line, giving the ball back to the Tigers.

Wittenberg's drive was stalled but Gebele was intercepted on Denison's third play of their ensuing drive.  That gave the ball back to Wittenberg deep inside Big Red territory and a steady dose of N. Kendall resulted in a touchdown for the Tigers with 4:18 to play, effectively putting the game out of reach at 28-6.

Denison backup quarterback Brad Baldinger finished the game after an injury to Gebele and completed a 23-yard touchdown to Charlie Mueller with 36 seconds remaining, setting the final at 28-12.

Gebele was 16-of-27 for 157 yards.  He also carried the ball 16 times for 44 yards.  Alex Minton finished with 65 yards rushing on 14 attempts and Weimar led the Denison receiving corps with six grabs for 70 yards.  On defense, Alex Raynor led Denison with seven tackles.

Jake Kennedy was 15-of-25 for 196 yards and two touchdowns and DeShawn Sarley had 73 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Denison outgained Wittenberg 382-322 and ran 78 offensive plays to Wittenberg's 55.  Turnovers proved to be the difference as the Tigers turned the ball over once compared to three times for DU.

The Big Red will look to bounce back next Saturday, Oct. 7, when they travel to No. 25 Wabash for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Little Giants.