The no. 13 Tigers maintained their grip on first place in the NCAC, extending their winning record to 8-0 after beating their rivals the Little Giants of Wabash College 21-14.
Both teams knew what this past Saturday’s match meant, as the last 12 NCAC Championships have been won by either Wittenberg or Wabash. The teams fought from whistle to whistle as the game was decided in the closing minutes with a late fourth quarter touchdown pass to Brice Bailey, ’18, thrown by quarterback, Jake Kennedy, ’19, and a strong stand by the Tigers defense.
The first quarter was slow, as both teams exchanged punts and were playing aggressive, but smart, football. After 12 minutes of play, Wittenberg was the first to find the end-zone and take a 7-0 lead with a rushing touchdown by running back Deshawn Sarley, ’19. It didn’t take long for the Little Giants to tie the game up at 7-7 by throwing a touchdown on the very next drive.
After exchanging turnovers in the second quarter, the Tigers were able to take advantage of their defense’s dominate performance by throwing another touchdown followed by a missed extra point; making the score 13-7 at halftime.
The Little Giants came out in the third quarter ready to play and proved this by taking an early lead over the Tigers. The score became 14-13 after following a Wittenberg interception. The Interception seemed to rattle the Tigers offense as they struggled to move the ball and punted on their next two drives. It took until the fourth quarter for the Tigers offense to get the ball moving and score the final touchdown of the game.
Despite several turnovers early in the game, the Tigers showed that they were firing on all cylinders with their dominate performance. Captain, Chandler Ferko, ’18, led the team with three sacks and 10 tackles. Kennedy left his name in the record books by becoming the first Wittenberg quarterback to start in back-to-back wins over Wabash.
“Its definently an accomplishment to beat Wabash two years in a row, but I couldn’t have done it without my team,” Kennedy said. “We trailed in both games and made plays when it mattered to stay in the win column. It’s exciting for the seniors to be able to say they got a win on the road in their last match up against Wabash.”
The Wittenberg Tigers can clinch their 15th NCAC Championship in their final two games at Edward-Maurer Field against Ohio Wesleyan and Wooster. These next two victories are the only thing standing in the way of a 10-0 finish; their first since the 2010 season.