The Muskingum University football team became the 41st school in NCAA Division III history to achieve 500 program wins with its thrilling 35-28 overtime win at Wilmington College on Saturday. The Muskies rallied from a 21-point second-half deficit to spoil the Quaker's Homecoming en route to the milestone victory.
Muskingum next hosts Ohio Athletic Conference foe Otterbein University for its Homecoming game on Saturday, October 12. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. in McConagha Stadium. At halftime, Muskingum will honor its newest inductees into the Athletic Hall of Fame - Dan Wesson '78, Adam Lescalleet '03, Ryan Lescalleet '03 and Nicole Blubaugh Moran '05.
The game will be broadcast live on WMCO 90.7 FM and simulcast on the Muskie Sports Network located on the Muskingum athletic web site beginning with the pregame show at 1:15 p.m.
The Muskies' memorable comeback was highlighted with a second-half surge that saw Muskingum outscore Wilmington 28-7 to force the extra frame.
Muskingum took the opening possession in overtime, and sophomore quarterback Cody Williams orchestrated a five-play, 25-yard touchdown drive that was capped off with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Williams to senior tight end Wes Rataiczak to give the Muskies their first lead of the contest.
Muskingum's defense then sealed the historic win by halting Wilmington on four plays from inside the Muskie five-yard line.
Trailing 21-0 in the third quarter, Williams began the Muskie charge with a three-yard score to Rataiczak. The touchdown capped off a five-play, 23-yard drive.
The Quaker's answered the Muskie score with an 85-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Brandon Arehart to sophomore receiver Jeremy Duncan.
After the Wilmington score, it was all Muskingum. The Muskies scored 28 unanswered points, spearheaded by senior running back Shane Dotson, who rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore running back Melvin Smith also played a vital role, rushing for 34 yards and scoring twice on the ground. The Muskie offense churned out a season-high 413 yards and 20 first downs.
The Quakers started strong jumping out to 21-0 lead in the first half to set the stage for the Muskie dramatic comeback. Arehart found Duncan on a 59-yard touchdown pass to give the home team the early lead. Several minutes later, the duo hooked up again, for an 80-yard touchdown connection. Arehart concluded the first-half barrage with an eight-yard strike to senior wide out Kyle Ackers.
Arehart completed 15-of-31 passes for 369 yards and four scores, with one interception. Duncan finished the contest with eight receptions for an Ohio Athletic Conference record 327 yards and three scores. Ackers caught three balls for 24 yards and a score.
Williams, who made his first career start, finished the day throwing for 182 yards and two scores, while rushing for 46 yards on 13 carries.
Rataiczak led the Muskie receiving core with nine receptions for 110 yards and two scores. Junior wide out Marvin Morris added four catches for 26 yards.
Muskingum's defense was led by sophomore linebacker Steven Vinson, Jr. and senior defensive lineman Luke Weber. Vinson, Jr. had eight stops and one tackle for loss, while Weber added five tackles.
Also aiding the defense was freshman defensive back Tyler Lancaster, senior defensive back Darell Jones, and sophomore defensive back Mason Bates. Lancaster made five tackles and had one pass breakup. Jones finished the contest with three pass breakups and four tackles. Bates had one interception and two tackles.
Wilmington's defense was led by sophomore linebacker Tarrell Starckey and senior defensive lineman Aaron Day. Starckey finished the contest with 19 tackles and two breakups. Day added 11 stops and one sack.