GRANVILLE, Ohio— Alex Minton rushed for a career-high 226 yards on 32 carries helping Denison to a 27-10 victory over Ohio Wesleyan. The win marked the sixth-straight win for the Big Red against OWU. It was also the seventh-best single-game rushing performance in program history.
Ohio Wesleyan entered the game leading the North Coast Athletic Conference in total defense, allowing only 277 yards per game. It was apparent early in the game that the Battling Bishops were focusing on shutting down the Denison passing attack.
Minton made his presence felt on Denison's first drive of the day. After a 15-yard completion by Canaan Gebele to TJ Oursler on 3rd and 8, Minton broke free for a 58-yard run, setting up a 2-yard touchdown by Gebele. The point-after attempt was blocked, and Denison led 6-0.
The score remained 6-0 in favor of the Big Red until late in the second quarter when OWU intercepted Gebele near midfield. Now set up with their best field position of the day, the Battling Bishops drove 25 yards and finished with a 30-yard field goal by Gabe Philhower with 1:29 left in the first half.
After a three-and-out by the Denison offense, the defense picked them up when first-year safety Ryan Hallinan intercepted Jax Harville at the 37-yard line and returned it 63 yards for a Denison touchdown. That marked the first interception return for a touchdown by a Denison player since Joel Lohoua '17 had a 36-yard pick-six against Ohio Wesleyan on Sept. 27, 2014.
That play sent Denison into the locker room with some momentum and a 12-3 lead.
On the Big Red's second possession of the third quarter, Pat Kramer's 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Kyle Hogan. Hogan made his presence felt on special teams, blocking three kicks in the game.
After the blocked field goal, OWU took over on their own 34-yard line. The Bishops drove to the Denison 26 but facing 4th and 9, they opted for a field goal try from 43 yards. That attempt by Jonah Markovits was blocked by Denison's Nate Keirn.
On DU's first drive of the fourth quarter, still clinging to a 12-3 lead, Gebele connected with Hunter Biddle on a 27-yard passing play. That set up an 8-yard touchdown pass from Gebele to David Weimar. The same duo completed the two-point conversion, giving Denison a 20-3 lead with 10:23 to play.
Ohio Wesleyan scored with 6:52 remaining to make it a two-score game at 20-10 but the Big Red put things to rest when Gebele found C.J. Davis on a 6-yard touchdown pass with under two minutes to play, setting the final at 27-10. On the final Denison drive, Minton had five consecutive carries that covered 34 yards. The drive was set up by a Michael Flanagan interception.
The Denison defense forced four turnovers and held the Battling Bishops to 265 yards of total offense. Chase Struewing finished with nine tackles, 1.5 sacks, and one fumble recovery. Hallinan had eight tackles, and the 63-yard interception return for a touchdown. Flanagan had one interception and eight tackles while Nate Keirn had one half sack, one blocked kick, three quarterback hurries, and three tackles.
Minton's 226 yards were the most by a Denison back since Michael Barnes tied the program's single-game record with 270 yards against Kalamazoo on Sept. 6, 2008. He has 814 yards rushing through seven games and is on pace for his second consecutive 1,000-yard season.
Gebele was 11-of-24 for 11 yards and two touchdowns. His counterpart, Harville, also struggled through the air, going 18-of-45 for 208 yards and three interceptions. Martin Sesma led Ohio Wesleyan in rushing with 10 carries for 31 yards.
Denison travels to Hiram next Saturday (Oct. 27) for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Terriers. At 5-2 and 5-1 in the NCAC, the Big Red sit in a tie for second place, trailing only Wittenberg (7-0, 6-0).