The Muskingum University football team will travel to John Carroll University this Saturday in game that will feature a battle of second place teams in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
The last three games against John Carroll have been decided by a total of 11 points, with the Muskies winning of pair of the games.
The game will be broadcast live on WMCO 90.7 FM and simulcast on the Muskingum Web Broadcasting Network located on the Muskingum athletic web site beginning with the pregame show at 1:15 p.m.
The Muskies (4-1, 3-1), who are off to their best start since 1996, will enter the game looking to rebound from last week's 17-7 setback against Heidelberg University. The Muskies amassed a season-best 356 yards of offense against the Berg, but were haunted by five interceptions in Heidelberg territory.
John Carroll (3-2, 3-1) enters the outing riding the momentum of three straight wins. During their current winning streak, the Blue Streaks have been averaging 42 points and 505 yards per game. Last Week, John Carroll thumped Wilmington College, 44-7.
Muskingum's defense continues to be a dominant force on the field. The Muskies rank first in NCAA Division III in sacks per game (5.2 spg), ninth in scoring defense (9.6 ppg), 12th in rushing defense (81 rypg), 17th in tackles for loss (8.6 tplpg) and 22nd in total defense (262.8 ypg).
Overall, the Muskie defense has notched 43 tackles for loss, 26 sacks, seven interceptions and forced four fumbles en route to allowing just 9.6 points and 262.8 yards per game.
The hard-hitting unit is led by senior linebackers Alex Thomas and Ethan Wetzel.
Thomas ranks second in the league in tackles and fourth in sacks. He is averaging 11.8 tackles per game and has notched four sacks. Last week against Heidelberg, Thomas notched a season-best 17 hits, including 11 solo stops.
Wetzel ranks 10th in the conference averaging 7.8 hits per game with one sack for nine yards and one forced fumble. Against Heidelberg, Wetzel blocked a field goal and logged one pass break-up.
Both Thomas and Wetzel have been recognized for their outstanding play this season by being named OAC Defensive Players of the Week and being named to the D3Football.com National Team of the Week.
Also aiding the stout defense is senior safety Anthony Zarcone, junior safety Tyler Richardson and junior defensive lineman Sean West. Zarcone ranks third on the team averaging 5.2 stops per game and is first in the OAC in passes defended with eight. Richardson leads the conference with three interceptions and is sixth in the OAC in passes defended with six. West ranks second in the conference with 4.5 sacks.
The Muskie offense, which is averaging 22.2 points and 318yards per game, is led by sophomore quarterback Dalton Smith. Smith ranks third in the league in total offense averaging 227 yards per outing. He has thrown for 837 yards with five touchdowns and nine interceptions and added 298 yards on 64 carries with five scores.
Senior running back Palmer Smith leads the rushing attack with 338 yards on 83 totes. He's averaging 4.1 yards per carry and ranks sixth in the league averaging 67.6 rushing yards per game. Also helping the ground game is sophomore running back Shane Dotson, who has two rushing touchdowns.
The receivers are paced by sophomore James Washington and senior Brad Polaski. Washington leads the Muskies with 16 catches for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Polaksi has grabbed 11 receptions for 111 yards. Senior wide out Antowan Logan has caught 10 passes for 143 yards and one score.
Muskingum special teams are paced by junior punter Danny Snively and junior kick returner Andrew Davis. Snively leads the OAC averaging 40.3 yards per punt and has a league-best 64-yard boot. He has placed nine punts inside the 20. Davis is one of the top kick returners in the OAC averaging 29.4 yards per return.
Senior quarterback Devin O'Brien leads the John Carroll offense which is averaging 411.8 yards and 30.4 points per game. The Blue Streaks rank 21st in Division III in rushing offense averaging 238 yards per game. O'Brien, who ranks second in the OAC in total offense, is averaging 170.6 passing yards and 68.8 rushing yards per contest. He has thrown for 853 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions and added 344 yards and five scores on the ground.
Joining O'Brien in the backfield are junior running back Casey Vogl and sophomore running back Anthony D'Aurizio. Vogl has carried the ball 24 times for 168 yard with four touchdowns, while D'Aurizio has 24 totes for 207 yards and one score.
The receivers are led by junior Lane Robilotto, junior Luke McCall and Ben Madden. Robilotto has a team-best 19 receptions for 283 yards and one score. Robilotto ranks 10th in the OAC averaging 56.6 receiving yards per game, while McCall has 12 grabs for 155 yards. Madden has pulled in 11 catches for 129 yards.
The Blue Streak defense, which is allowing 33 points and 418.2 yards per contest, is led by senior linebacker C.J. Seitzinger. He ranks 17th in the league averaging 6.8 tackles per game and has logged 1.5 sacks with two pass break-ups. Sophomore defensive back Ryan Winchell is averaging 6.4 hits per outing and sophomore defensive back Alex Cameron is tallying 4.6 stops per game to help aid the defensive effort.
Overall, John Carroll defense has recorded 22 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, recovered three fumbles, forced two fumbles and notched two interceptions.
John Carroll's special teams are paced by Robilotto, who is averaging 22.5 yards per kick return to rank second in the OAC. Freshman kicker Kresimir Ivkovic is third in the league with five field goals.