Oberlin, Ohio – It wasn't pretty but the Oberlin College football team gutted out a 20-10 win over Denison University on a windy Saturday afternoon at Savage Stadium.
It was a defensive struggle for most of the game and the Yeomen defense accepted the challenge, holding the Big Red to just 191 total yards while forcing seven punts along the way. Oberlin also had fives tackles for a loss and three sacks in the win.
Offensively the Yeomen amassed 314 yards with 118 coming on the ground. Junior Drew Mixter recorded his second career 100-yard performance with 102 yards on 21 carries. Quarterback Josh Mandel finished 10-of-20 for 150 yards to go along with two touchdowns and one interception. Sophomore Robin Witjes caught three passes for 74 yards – two of which went for scores.
After a scoreless first quarter that featured five punts, it was the Big Red who broke through first on their second possession of the second quarter. Dan Crawford capped off a 7-play, 58-yard drive to give the visitors a 7-0 lead with 4:56 remaining in the opening half.
Following the score, both teams would quickly go three-and-out on their next possessions. However, a seven-yard punt by the Big Red went out of bounds at their own 22-yard line giving the Yeomen a golden opportunity to get on the board with 1:39 left in the half. On 3rd-and-9 from the 11 Mandel found Witjes wide open on a skinny post play to make it a 7-6 game. With the wind swirling, Oberlin elected to try a fake PAT instead of kicking the ball, but Zach Richard's rush attempt failed.
After a lightning-fast third quarter, Mandel was picked off on the first play of the fourth by Charles Coleman who returned the ball down to the Yeomen 35-yard line. However, the stingy Yeomen defense forced Denison to settle for a 25-yard field goal and a 10-6 lead.
Later in the fourth the Yeomen took advantage of great field position once again – mounting a 5-play, 31-yard drive that ended with a beautifully designed tight-end screen from Mandel to Danny Enright for a five-yard score and 14-10 Yeomen cushion. The big play on the drive was a 23-yard connection to Ryan Harvey on 3rd-and-9.
After the Yeomen forced the Big Red into their seventh punt of the game, OC took control of the ball with 4:29 left to play with both teams out of times outs. Conventional wisdom would say to run the ball and kill some clock, but the Yeomen went a different route. On the first play of the possession, offensive coordinator Alan Estep went for the jugular as he dialed up a double-reverse pass from Cory Kidd to Witjes that went to the house.
Following the big score, Denison (3-6, 1-4 NCAC) had one last ditch effort and drove the ball down to the Oberlin 22, but on 4th-and-10 freshman Zach Kisley came away with his first-career interception to put the game on ice.
Ron Rupard led the Yeomen defense with seven tackles, including one for a loss. Jake Hochendoner, Cody Wiewandt, Adam Wigren and Jake Panka each got in a sack on Denison QB Max Paulus.
Oberlin, which snapped a four-game skid while improving to 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the NCAC, will look to make it two in a row when Ohio Wesleyan comes to town next Saturday. The Bishops picked up their first win of the season today by knocking of Kenyon 30-14.