WESTERVILLE, Ohio – The Otterbein football team hung on for victory under the lights of Memorial Stadium Saturday night, getting a late pass breakup on fourth down to emerge with a 37-29 win over Baldwin Wallace.
The Cardinals, now 5-2 on the season and 4-2 within Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) play, led 34-17 with 9:43 remaining before the Yellow Jackets mounted a comeback that had the game in doubt until the closing seconds.
Otterbein trailed 10-0 for a majority of the first half, not getting on the scoreboard until quarterback Logan Stepp broke a 42-yard touchdown on 4th-and-inches. The Cards later took a 14-10 lead into halftime after safety Fred Hardgrove skied for his fifth interception of the season, which led to a five-play drive and short rushing TD from Dakota Smith.
The Cards tallied a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to open a 27-10 advantage, with running back Christian Johnson finding space all over the continue moving the chains.
Senior Julian Lowe took care of the scoring with two TD catches, the first from 11 yards out and the second from 10 when Stepp threaded a needle over the middle. Lowe now has 28 career touchdown receptions, one shy of matching Jeff Gibbs' all-time record of 29.
Baldwin Wallace (4-3, 3-3 OAC) didn't go away quietly, hitting a scoring pass on 3rd-and-goal and then recovering an onside kick directly after. That momentum led to another short touchdown pass, and a failed two-point conversion attempt was broke up by Otterbein's Brandon Paschal to leave the gap at 34-29.
Stepp broke a long run down inside the red zone on the next series, and the offense ultimately settled for a 31-yard field goal from freshman David Hoyle. The Yellow Jackets marched back down the field after a squib kick went wrong for the Cardinals, but senior Melvin Medina broke up a pass on 4th-and-2 inside the 10-yard line to preserve the win.
Johnson had a career night in rushing 23 times for 207 yards and a touchdown, while Stepp accounted for 329 yards of offense and three combined TD's. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 185 yards, and rushed 14 times for another 144.
Lowe snagged seven catches for 78 yards and his pair of touchdowns, Hunter Joseph secured four for 38 yards, tight end Josh Plininger had three for 33 and Payton Vanderkooi caught two passes, including a timely third-down reception on the last drive.
Senior linebacker Austin Jones led the defense with 13 tackles (two for loss), one sack and one forced fumble. The defense collectively had seven tackles for loss and four pass sacks.
Otterbein racked up 553 yards of total offense, including a 368-98 advantage on the ground, and also held a 31-20 edge in first downs. The Cardinals will next play at No. 2-ranked and league-leading Mount Union next weekend in Alliance.