It was a tough loss on Saturday for the Wittenberg Tigers at their homecoming football game against Denison University Big Red. Despite soaking rain and powerful wind, Wittenberg fans, students, and alumni packed the stands in support of the Tigers, sticking it out until the final whistle.
The 24-14 outcome does not reflect the competitive nature of the game. The Tigers came out strong taking their first drive all the way to the end zone with a touchdown pass to Sam Kayser (’21). Denison answered with a field goal, followed by a seemingly unending drive spanning two quarters, and resulting in a touchdown.
Wittenberg came out of half-time refreshed and energized, starting with an early touchdown run by Jaheem Washington (’20), followed by a quick three and out for Denison’s offense, suggesting a turn in the tide for Tigers’ defense against a formidable Denison-run game. But the Big Red prevailed in the end with two field goals, a touchdown, and a two-point conversion to close out the game victorious. Between a failed Wittenberg fourth-down attempt and a missed field goal, this game could have gone either way, leaving fans, at the very least, entertained.
The Tigers struggle against Denison seemed to be against their run game. They rushed 226 yards on Saturday against Wittenberg’s 89. Denison senior tailback Alex Minton carried the ball 37 times, one of which resulted in a touchdown. On the other hand, Tigers’ defense held Denison to only four successful completion attempts against 13 incomplete passes.
Tiger quarterback Bobby Froehlich (’21) had a mixed performance, throwing two interceptions. Twice, however, he helped put points on the board first with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Kayser and then with a run play in which Jaheem Washington ran for 19 yards into the end zone. Froelich averaged seven yards per pass with a total of 252 yards on the day.
Fans, coaches, and players alike were in a rage after an inexplicable flag was thrown against number 46, Logan Jewsikow, for unsportsmanlike conduct. The flag was thrown well after play was stopped on account of an injured Denison player and Tiger players had already begun moving off the field. What would have been 2nd and 11 turned into a gain of 15 yards and a first down for Denison. Coaches screams of outrage could be heard at the highest point of the stands in what was truly a bizarre turn of events. The call eventually led to a Denison field goal, putting Denison within a point just before the end of the third quarter, arguably turning the tide of the game. In the opinion of one class of 1979 alumnus, “That ref just gave the game to Denison.”
The Wittenberg Tigers now have a record of 4-3 putting them fourth in the conference, five spots ahead of Oberlin, who they will be playing this Saturday, November 2nd at 6 p.m.. Wittenberg’s last rendezvous with the Yeomen on the Oberlin campus was nothing short of a slaughter, with the Tigers coming out on top, 45-14. Comparing season-long cumulative statistics, Wittenberg has scored 134 more points, rushed 492 more yards, and won three more games than Oberlin College. With home team advantage, Wittenberg is the favorite this coming Saturday.
With three games to go, the Tigers will need a flawless performance for the rest of the season. Playoffs haven’t slipped away yet.