Denison executes for milestone win at Wittenberg

Alex Minton  |  Photo by Jace Delagdo
Alex Minton | Photo by Jace Delagdo

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio--  Denison football achieved another milestone victory in the Jack Hatem era after a 24-14 win over Wittenberg on Saturday at Edwards-Maurer Field.

Facing difficult weather conditions with heavy rain and gusty winds, having a good ground game was vital and lucky for Denison, Alex Minton is one of the best in the nation.

The senior tailback carried the ball 37 times for 198 yards and one touchdown while helping Denison win the time of possession battle by six minutes.

Denison entered the fourth quarter trailing 14-13 and took over on their own 19-yard line after Nick Bowman's 36-yard field goal try went wide left.  Through the first three quarters, Denison quarterback Drew Dawkins kept things safe completing three passes for 31 yards.  On 2nd and 10 from the 19, he connected with the dangerous Peyton Vining who caught the ball in the middle of the field and turned it up the sideline for an 81-yard touchdown.  It was the fourth TD catch of 40 yards or more for Vining this year.  It was also clearly the big play of the game.

After the Vining score, the Big Red converted a two-point conversion on a pass from Dawkins to Dallas Griffiths to take a 21-14 lead.

The Tigers took over on their own 28-yard line with 11:50 remaining and began to drive, converting a pair of third down passes.  On 1st and 10 from the Denison 35, Andrew Smith and Ben Cross sacked Froehlich for a loss of five yards.  After gains of seven and four yards on second and third downs, Wittenberg was faced with a key 4th and 4.  Froehlich looked for Snodgrass on a slant by the pass sailed high resulting in a turnover on downs.

Denison's next drive did not result in a first down, but senior punter Calvin Montgomery flipped the field with a 51-yard punt to the Wittenberg 28.  The Tigers had one last chance, needing to go 72 yards in 3:54 to tie the game but the DU defense was up for the challenge as Smith broke-up a pass to DeShawn Sarley on 4th and 3 that nearly sealed up the win.

Denison put the rubber stamp on the win on its next possession. Minton broke free for a 29-yards to the Wittenberg 5-yard line.  That allowed the Big Red to run the clock down and kick a 19-yard field goal with 28 seconds left.

Pat Kramer was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goal tries, connecting from 21, 27, and 19 yards.  Montgomery punted three times and averaged 52.0 yards per punt.

Minton's season-high 198 yards pushed his season rushing total to an NCAC leading 903 yards.  Last week against Wooster he surpassed the 3,000-yard milestone. Today he moved into fourth place in career rushing yards with 3,272.  Minton passed 1958 graduate, Marv Smith who totaled 3,224 yards between 1954-57.  Marv Smith is the grandfather of current Denison starting linebacker, Andrew Smith.

The defense was led by Chris Negrete who finished with eight tackles.  Nate Keirn had five tackles, one sack, and two tackles-for-loss, running his career sack total to 32.  Francis Fay also added five solo tackles from his strong safety position.

The Tigers were led in rushing by Jaheem Washington's 80 yards on 16 carries.  Kayser caught 10 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown.  Froehlich was 24-of-36 for 252 yards, one TD and two interceptions.

This is the second win over Wittenberg since 2016 and the first win by a Denison team in Springfield since 1952.  At 6-1 overall and 5-1 in the NCAC, Denison remains in a tie for first place in the North Coast Athletic Conference with Wabash and Ohio Wesleyan.  Next Saturday, Denison will host DePauw at 1 p.m.