Wabash dominated Ohio Wesleyan for three quarters Saturday for a 28-7 home-opening win. The Little Giants improved to 2-0 behind staunch defense and Wes Chamblee's 184 all-purpose yards.
Wabash scored on three of its first four possessions to dispel in Bishop ideas of an upset. Wes Chamblee hauled in a 20-yard Chase Belton pass for the score. It was Belton to Chamblee for another 11 yard score to put Wabash up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Jonathan Horn put Wabash up 21-0 with a nice leaping catch for an 11-yard touchdown before the offense stagnated.
Ohio Wesleyan got its only score of the game when Steven Uhler broke free on a defensive lapse and hauled in an 80-yard connection with quarterback Mason Espinosa , 21-7.
"We played well offensively scoring three touchdowns on our first four possessions but then we weren't able to stay in sync," Coach Erik Raeburn said. "We had mental errors and penalties. You name it, we did it to get out of rhythm on offense."
The only other scoring in the game came on Wabash's first possession of the second half when Belton found a wide open James Krauss for a 54-yard score.
The offensive stagnation was in part due to seven sacks and what Raeburn called a "hit and miss" running game.
"We struggled to pass against them last year but we had some success running the ball. We tried to emphasize getting the run game going early on to help us pass the ball more and I think we did that a little bit. But it seems like we were hit and miss with the running game. We'd hit a big one and then struggle."
The Little Giants rushed for 252 yards in the game with 126 of that total in the first quarter. The offense hit a wall in the second quarter with just six yards rushing and three sacks of the quarterback.
"We have a lot of work to do," said offensive lineman Weston Kitley. "We've really been struggling with our assignments. Today, our pass blocking was really bad. We tried to play really intense today so that made up for it but today we had way too many missed assignments. Today was not a passing grade by any means for our line."
Wabash suffered seven sacks in the game. Raeburn said the breakdown was shared all around. "We have to get open and the quarterback has to read the coverage. He got fooled a couple times and didn't do the right thing with the ball. There were times we had some pressure but there were times where he had enough time and we didn't get anyone open or he didn't get rid of the ball. Obviously, we have to improve in that area, those just kill your drives. Some of those sacks we can live with but a few shouldn't have happened."
Chamblee set the pace early with his two touchdown catches and 184 all-purpose yards for the game.
"You think about it and the last full game he played heading into the season opener was a playoff game at Illinois Wesleyan in 2009," Raeburn said. "He was out a long time and had a serious injury. I thought he played outstanding last week considering all that. But certainly with a game under his belt, he really felt comfortable out there today and you could see that in his play."
Chamblee led the little giants with 103 yards and five catches. Horn had 45 yards and four catches before leaving with an injury. Vann Hunt led the rushing with 53 yards on 13 attempts.
Another bright spot for Wabash was the kicking game. Punter Cameron Sobleski had six punts for a 40.7 average. Ian MacDougall kicked off five times for a 63-yard average.
Kyle Najar led the Little Giant defense with 9 tackles. Jonathon Koop added six stops and an interception. Andrew Gibson, Nate Scola, Houston Hodges, Jorge Diaz-Aguilar, and Pat Clegg collected five tackles apiece.
"I think our schemes were working really well," Najar said. "We got the call in, lined up and just played well today. We watched a lot of film so were pretty much prepared. We have a lot of good players on defense and we're fast. We have schemes and speed that's tough for offenses to cope with."
The final stats were not necessarily reflective of the Little Giants defensive dominance. OWU outgained Wabash 375-335 for the game, but that included a lopsided 127-36 edge in total yards in the fourth quarter against the Little Giant second-string defense.
OWU falls to 1-2 while Wabash takes its 2-0 record to University of Chicago next week.