The Wittenberg football senior class has done more than just go 37-6 in the players’ four years in Springfield, the seniors have left a continued legacy of winning on the program as well. This past Saturday, a whopping 32 seniors played their last game at Edwards-Maurer Field, with a chance to win an outright NCAC title.
Wittenberg entered the game with an overall record of (8-1) and (8-0) in North Coast Athletic Conference play. The Tigers had just dominated rival Wabash to clinch at least a share of the NCAC title and a berth in the NCAA National Tournament. A win against Allegheny would give the seniors their second career outright conference title and their third shared or outright title in four years. On the other hand, Allegheny entered the game at (0-9) overall, with the Gators just hoping to end their rough season on a positive note.
However, the Tigers were out to put on a show on Senior Day. Senior quarterback Reed Florence started the scoring off with a nine yard touchdown run early in the first quarter. After a defensive stop, senior receiver Desi Kirkman caught a 17 yard pass from Florence for a 14-0 Wittenberg lead. A few minutes later, sophomore running back Jimmy Dehnke scored on a 14 yard rushing touchdown to put the Tigers up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Wittenberg opened the second quarter by scoring three touchdowns in the first eight minutes of the quarter. Florence opened with a five yard rushing touchdown, followed by a three yard touchdown pass to senior Stephen Zumdick. Florence’s day was finished after the second score, with the Tigers electing to rest their star player. But, that didn’t stop the Wittenberg dominance, as sophomore Zack Jenkins came in for Florence and promptly threw a 25 yard touchdown pass to Zumdick. Senior running back JaVanh Sanders capped the half with an electrifying 71 yard touchdown and Wittenberg entered the half leading 49-0.
Sanders opened the second half with a seven yard touchdown run just two minutes into the third quarter. From there, Wittenberg was content to take the high road and run the clock out for win number nine of the season. The Wittenberg defense was excellent, just like it has been all season long. The game ended in a 56-0 Wittenberg victory.
Florence led the team with two touchdowns passing and two more on the ground. Senior Noah Johanson and Jenkins both also saw time behind center, with Johanson throwing for 88 yards and Jenkins throwing for a touchdown. Sanders had a career day for the Tigers, running the ball 18 times for 194 yards and two scores. Johanson and sophomore Sean Gary ran for 50 and 46 yards, respectively. Nine different Tigers caught passes on the day, with sophomore Zach Culvahouse leading the team with five catches for 63 yard. Freshman Brady Vanover had a big game defensively, as he blocked punt and also recorded his first career interception, which he returned for 27 yards.
Wittenberg finishes the regular season as the outright NCAC champions. The Tigers now await their first round opponent, with a good chance of hosting a first round game next Saturday. Last season the Tigers defeated Heidelberg in the first round of the playoffs before falling to Hobart.