WOOSTER, Ohio - Nothing ever seems to come easy for the Wittenberg Tigers when they travel to Wooster. Even the weather wasn't cooperating at the outset of a key early season North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) clash between the two teams.
As they have so many times before, the Tigers made the plays when they needed them most. For the sixth time in eight trips to Wooster since 1999, Wittenberg emerged victorious, this time overcoming inclement weather that delayed the start of the game and a stern challenge from the Scots to win by a 17-7 margin.
The win was Wittenberg's 34th in 47 all-time meetings with the Scots, dating back to a 1912 road trip to Wooster. Since 1949, however, the Tigers have won 33 of the 36 meetings, including 21 of 24 as NCAC rivals.
More important to the 2012 version of the Wittenberg football squad, the Tigers are now 3-0 on the season, including a mark of 2-0 in the NCAC. Wooster, on the other hand, now sits at 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
The 10-point win – Wittenberg's biggest at Wooster since a 47-13 victory in 1999, can be described as nothing short of workmanlike. The Tigers trailed until midway through the third quarter and didn't secure a two-score advantage until just 6:30 remained on the clock in the fourth frame, a far cry of comfortable wins over Capital and DePauw to open the campaign.
Wittenberg struggled in the passing game after back-to-back games with 300-plus yard outputs, so the Tigers turned to the ground game to churn out a season-best 251 yards. Freshman Jimmy Dehnke (Canton, Ohio/Massillon Jackson) carried the load in the first half with 12 carries for 79 yards, while sophomore Will Stocker (Cincinnati, Ohio/Turpin) did the heavy-lifting over the final 30 minutes with career-highs of 31 carries for 119 yards.
Junior quarterback Reed Florence (South Charleston, Ohio/Southeastern), who added 63 yards on 12 carries himself, may not have had his best day through the air, but he completed a pair of second-half passes that were good for touchdowns. The first covered three yards to junior Desi Kirkman (Lima, Ohio/Catholic Central) in the third quarter and the second spanned 12 yards to senior Garth Gilbert (Medway, Ohio/Tecumseh) in the fourth.
With the exception of one drive in the first quarter, the Wittenberg defense was outstanding, coming up with five turnovers, including a fumble recovery by senior Jon Daniels (Springfield, Ohio/South) at the Wooster five-yard-line that set up the go-ahead score, and holding Wooster to just 181 yards of total offense. Removing a 75-yard drive that resulted in Wooster's lone points of the game, the Scots were held to a mere 106 yards on 48 plays.
The Tigers finished with eight tackles for loss in the game, including three sacks. Junior defensive tackle Josh Montgomery (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) was the catalyst, recording a team-high six tackles, 3.5 of which were for loss, including a pair of sacks. Daniels added four tackles, forced a fumble and recovered two more.