Football toppled the Battling Bishops Saturday, 38-20, and claimed their fourth straight NCAC Title in a three-way tie with Wabash and Denison. The Tigers finished the 2019 season, 7-3 overall, and 7-2 in NCAC play.
“I’m shocked, how ‘bout that, it was not what I anticipated coming out of here, obviously I’m happy for our team, and really happy for our seniors.” said Head Coach Joe Fincham of the NCAC title, “Whether you win it outright or tie doesn’t matter, they’re still championships.”
The Bishops struck first Saturday as Ohio Wesleyan rushed into their endzone for a touchdown early in the first quarter. Wittenberg stuck back moments later as LaShon Bright (’23) returned the Bishops kickoff 93 yards, stirring the Wittenberg sideline into a frenzy with 10:04 left in the first. The Tigers next drive saw Bobby Froelich (’21) throw 20-yards to Jake Saus (‘22) ending out of bounds at Wittenberg’s own 40-yard line. Jaheem Washington (’20) rushed three yards, before Froehlich rushed 17-yards to the Bishops 40-yard line. Washington then pulled out 13-yards over two rushes. Froehlich threw 15-yards to Erik Anderson (’20), before rushing five-yards to the Bishops’ seven-yard line. Troy Clay (’20) ran two yards to end at the five-yard line where Christian Seger (’23) completed a field goal to break the tie with 2:06 left in the first.
The second quarter started out with fireworks for the Tigers as Washington rushed seven-yards to Wittenberg’s own nine-yard line. Froehlich then looked to Thad Snodgrass (’20) and his speed to complete a 91-yard pass for a Wittenberg touchdown.
“Thad [Snodgrass] is probably one of the fastest receivers in the league and I threw it up there and let him go do what he does best, kill people with speed,” Froehlich said.
The Tigers led the Bishops by 10 with 12:11 left in the first half. Wittenberg stuck again on their next possession as Washington rushed 17-yards over three carries to cross the goal line. Wittenberg led, 24-7. The Wittenberg cheerleaders got their daily push-ups in as the Tigers stuck once again of a 14-yard pass by Saus to Froehlich. Clay then completed a three-yard pass to DeShawn Sarley (’20) to score once again for the Tigers. Wittenberg led, 31-7.
The last half hour of the Tigers’ 2019-20 season started with a turnover, as Nasir Carter (’21) forced a fumble which was recovered by Tavian Crowe (’21) at Wittenberg’s own one-yard line. The Tigers were unable to convert on their possession and were forced to punt to the Bishops’ 48-yard line. It wasn’t until the second to last possession of the third quarter the score to change as Wittenberg took possession at the Bishops’ 23-yard line with 1:29 left in the third. A false start by Anderson pushed the Tigers back to the Bishops’ 27-yard line. Froehlich then completed a 27-yard pass to Saus to lead the Bishops by 31 with 27 seconds left in the third.
The Bishops opened the fourth quarter with a touchdown, off two passes for 55-yards. Wittenberg led 38-14, with 14:27 left in the season. The Tigers failed to produce any results in the fourth quarter as Ohio Wesleyan struck gold again to bring the game within 18, with 3:24 left. Ohio Wesleyan recovered their onside kickoff at their own 47-yard line, but paid dearly for it, as Jonathan Seay (’20) sacked the Bishops’ quarterback for a loss of seven yards. The Bishops pushed to Wittenberg’s 38-yard line before Troy Jones (’20) intercepted a pass at the Tiger’s own one-yard line. Wittenberg had the game at this point, and just needed to run out the final moments of the season.
Following the Tigers’ 38-20 win, the team gathered around phones, anxiously watching the livestream of the Wabash-DePauw game, in which Wabash trailed by four points with seconds left. A cheer went up as time expired in Greencastle, IN with DePauw on top, meaning that for the fourth year in a row, the Tigers were the North Coast Athletic Conference Champions.