November 5, 2011

Wabash Claims NCAC Title With Win Over Wittenberg

More news about: Wabash

12-66-238. Numbers seldom tell the story of any athletic contest and often trivialize meaningful results. Wabash dominated Wittenberg Saturday with physical defense and a punishing run attack for a 28-17 championship win. The Little Giants will be in the NCAA playoffs in two weeks and are the 2011 NCAC Conference Champions.

Those numbers play out to 12 rushing first downs, 66 carries, and 238 rushing yards.

"They're really good on defense, particularly in the secondary," Coach Erik Raeburn said. "We knew we'd have to run the football to have a chance. We ran a lot better in the first half than even I thought we could.

"But the defense was the big key. I've got tremendous respect for how good their quarterback and receivers are. To hold them to 10 points, with the screw-ups coming on our special teams for their last score, that was an impressive defensive performance by our guys."

The Little Giant defense was stellar against Witt quarterback Ben Zoeller holding him to 15-of-27 passing for 146 yards. They picked off one and sacked him four times. But the defense blitzed, blitzed and blitzed some more putting a body on Zoeller nearly every throw.

"Last year he torched us," Raeburn said. "But just like every quarterback, when you get hit every time it's hard to make accurate throws."

The rushing numbers were staggering. Wabash's 238 yards looked all the more glaring beside the Tigers' 10 net yards.

"Running the ball is always the key," said junior offensive lineman Weston Kitley. "If you can control the line of scrimmage, like everybody says, you can control the game. They're an all-around great team. Every year they're a great team. We knew we had to come out with a lot more intensity than we have the last 4-5 weeks. We came out ready to play. We had too many mental errors again today but they did a lot of confusing things. We just did a good job of picking most of it up."

Tyler Holmes had a career day with 111 yards on 19 rushes. Vann Hunt added 85 on 22 carries. Chase Belton had 88 yards on 20 carries.

The defense set the Little Giants up for their first score when C.J. Gum delivered a crushing blow to Zoeller that caused an errant pass picked off by freshman Cody Brush. Wabash kept the ball on the ground capped by Belton's one-yard plunge, 7-0. The Little Giants got their second score of the game on a five-rush-play drive capped by Belton's four-yard fun, 14-0.

On the next series the defense forced a three-and-out and Wabash was on the run again. Five rushing plays moved the ball to the Witt 21. Belton found a streaking Wes Chamblee crossing through the end zone for a 21-0 halftime edge.

Witt put two scores up in the third quarter on Corey Weber's five-yard run and Sean Williams' 42-yard field goal.

The Little Giants got their first wrapped around the NCAC championship trophy with seven minutes to play. The defense forced two incomplete passes then smothered Zoeller for a 12-yard sack. Trey LaValley had to punt from near his goal line. Kyle Najar flew in from a corner, blocked the punt which was picked up in the end zone by Hildebrand for a touchdown.

"I knew I had an edge on that right tackle I'd blocked before," Najar said. "I was setting him up because I was calling it out like I was blocking him. I just got past him and whacked it. I saw the ball bounced and Sean was there to pick it up. I knew I was going to block it for some reason."

Hildebrand knew he was in the right place at the right time. "We called an all-out punt block," he explained. "I was on outside contain and Kyle made a great play to get the block. It was a gift from God when the ball bounced right to me."

Witt picked up a late score with three minutes to play when a Little Giant snap sailed way over the head of the Wabash punter. The ball was picked up by Mike McKee and returned 25 yards to cap the scoring, 28-17.

Wabash wins the NCAC championship outright for the first time since 2008 and earns the league's automatic berth for the NCAA Championships. The unbeaten Little Giants 9-0 travel to DePauw Saturday for 118th battle for the Monon Bell. The Tigers are 4-4 after Saturday's win over Albion.

Wittenberg, 7-2, must face Wooster to close its season.

"To win a conference championship, we're going to the playoffs, those are all great things," Raeburn said. We'll enjoy it tonight and then we have to get ready for the Bell Game."

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
Video Preview Live Stats
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
Video Live Stats Audio
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Belhaven at Millsaps
Video Live Stats
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
Video Audio
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Preview Live Stats
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
Video Preview Live Stats
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
12:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Kean at Christopher Newport
1:00 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
Video Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Video Live Stats Tickets
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
Video Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
Video Live Stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
Audio
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats
1:30 PM
RPI at Norwich
Video Live Stats
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
Live Stats
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
Video Audio
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
Video Live Stats
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
Audio
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
Audio
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Video Live Stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
Video Audio Audio
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Video Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
McPherson at Nebraska Wesleyan
Live Stats
4:00 PM
UW-Platteville at George Fox
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Video Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
Video Live Stats Audio
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
Video Live Stats
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Denison at Marietta
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
Video Live Stats Live Stats
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Preview Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Preview Live Stats
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
Video Live Stats Audio
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Video Live Stats Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
Video Live Stats Audio
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
8:30 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
Live Stats Audio
Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
Video Live Stats Audio
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
Live Stats
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Video Live Stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
Video Live Stats
4:00 PM
UW-Platteville at George Fox
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Live Stats Audio
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats