WOOSTER, Ohio – On a hot and humid season opener (the heat index was 89 degrees at kickoff), Baldwin-Wallace College and The College of Wooster had trouble hanging on to the football as the teams combined for nine turnovers, but it was the Yellow Jackets who were able to take better advantage during their 23-0 victory at the first Thursday night game held at John P. Papp Stadium.
It appeared Wooster would strike first, moving into the red zone via four first downs during its second offensive series. On 2nd-and-goal from the four-yard line, quarterback Richard Barnes looked like he had a hole to the end zone, but was stripped from behind and Baldwin-Wallace's Derron Hamilton recovered on the one.
From there, the Yellow Jackets gained some breathing room, picking up four first downs to midfield. Two penalties backed them up to their own 25, and on 2nd-and-33, they struck for the game's first big play, as Kevin Johnson got free down the right sideline, hauled in a pass from Ryan O'Rourke, and went the distance for a 73-yard touchdown.
The next key sequence saw the Scots' defense turn the tables, with Seth Goodwin recovering a fumble at the Wooster one-yard line to deny a Baldwin-Wallace score on the initial play of the second quarter.
The turnovers continued, though, as another Scots' series was derailed, and this time John Harasyn returned the fumble 68 yards for a touchdown.
The two offenses then exchanged interceptions, with Brandon James setting up Wooster at the Yellow Jacket 41-yard line. Shortly thereafter, Robert Flagg turned a short pass into a 31-yard gain, however, the Scots were ultimately denied on four plays inside the five-yard line, turning it over on downs right before the half as the score remained 14-0.
The defenses continued to dominate play throughout most of the third quarter. Wooster recovered a second fumble of the period inside its own 10-yard line, only to see a series of penalties back the offense up to the three. Then, Max Wagner busted through the line for a sack and safety to make it 16-0.
A 24-yard return on the ensuing punt allowed Baldwin-Wallace to start in Scot territory, and four plays later, Willie Jackson found a seam up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown rush with 1:29 to go in the third.
That would cap the game's scoring, with the Yellow Jackets again denying Wooster during the fourth when a Ryan Dugan interception in the end zone ended another threat.
The Scots had eight more first downs (24-16) and nearly as many offensive yards (333) as Baldwin-Wallace (379), but were ultimately done in by the three fumbles and two interceptions.
Barnes had a busy evening, completing 21-of-37 passes for 180 yards and rushing 22 times. He gained 86 yards, but that dropped to a net of 39 due to six sacks, which allowed sophomore transfer John Battaglia to finish as the team's leading rusher with 57 yards on just five carries in his first game with Wooster.
The Scots' top receiver was also a newcomer, as freshman Justin Rice grabbed six balls out of the air for 46 yards.
The Yellow Jackets were paced by Jackson's 100-yard game, as he wound up with 127 on 14 rushes, and O'Rourke hit on 10-of-18 passes for 119 yards.
Wooster enters North Coast Athletic Conference action next Saturday, as last year's league runner-up, Wabash College (0-0), visits Papp Stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff.