First-year Mateo Renteria electrified The College of Wooster football team with 388 yards passing in his first collegiate start, and the Fighting Scots' defense protected a three-point lead with an interception and fourth-down stop down the stretch, as Wooster topped DePauw University 24-21 on Black & Gold Weekend.
While it took Wooster (2-2, 1-2 North Coast Athletic Conference) two possessions to put points on the scoreboard, Renteria made his presence felt from the get-go, and opened the game by completing his first three passes. The signal-caller continued to move the chains late in the opening quarter, and the Scots strung together a 13-play, 80-yard drive that carried over into the second quarter. That drive ended with a 14-yard Renteria touchdown strike to fellow rookie Cole Hissong, and sophomore Henry Whyte chipped the extra point try through the uprights to tie the game at seven with 12:03 left before halftime.
With just over seven minutes remaining in the opening half, DePauw (1-2, 1-1 NCAC) punter Ty Johnson dropped a snap, and picked up the pigskin only to have first-year Chase Flanagan knock it out of his hands. That sent senior Derrick Florence scrambling after the loose ball, and the veteran logged a 3-yard fumble return for a score. Whyte's extra point made it 14-7 with 7:09 to go in the half.
Later, sophomore Cam Pollard intercepted Chase Andries in the final minute of the first half, and Wooster wasted no time adding seven more points to the scoreboard. Renteria found Nick Strausbaugh in space, and the sensational junior kept a host of Tigers just out of his grasp on the way to the end zone on a 73-yard catch-and-run.
Noteworthy, Strausbaugh's touchdown marked the 20th receiving score of his career, and he's the fifth Scot to hit that milestone.
DePauw, which played two quarterbacks in the game, gave the reins of the offense back to Cam Haynes in the second half, and the sophomore capitalized on a short-field situation and found Logan Greene from seven yards out to cap a 4-play, 23-yard drive. Greene's touchdown made it 21-14 with 10:26 left in the third quarter.
Next, junior Robert Alvarez's awareness resulted in the fourth of five takeaways in the game. The defensive end scooped up a fumble on the Tigers' 34-yard line, and Whyte capped the ensuing offensive drive with a 24-yard field goal that made it 24-14 with 5:35 to go in the third quarter.
DePauw trimmed Wooster's lead to three on a 9-play, 44-yard drive that ended in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Haynes to Andy Hunt. Jake Tanner's extra point made it a 24-21 game with 9:20 remaining.
Wooster's defense took charge from there.
On DePauw's next drive, sophomore Beau Greenwood recorded his second interception of the game on the Scots' 42-yard line. The safety's first pick came on the game's opening drive in the end zone.
Later, DePauw had 2:12 to work with in an effort to tie or take the lead at the end of the game. Junior D'Andre Brown wasn't having any of it, and spilled Haynes for a 3-yard loss on a first-and-10 play. Then, junior Jake Cohen and senior Hunter Coia teamed up to bring Will Harris down short of the first-down marker, and a holding penalty all but derailed the Tigers' chances to extend the drive.
Renteria completed 29-of-45 passes for 388 yards – the eighth-most in program history – and two scores. Strausbaugh accounted for 161 of the yards on eight receptions, and he's now fourth all-time in receiving at 1,788 yards.
Junior Jacob Lewis factored heavily into the offensive game plan, and the tight end upped his career-high in receiving to 100 yards.
Sophomore Mark Herron's nine tackles led Wooster, while classmate Kobe Matesic had a team-high 1.5 sacks.
Haynes completed 22-of-32 passes for 238 yards and had two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
Zach Williams tallied a game-high 13 tackles, while DePauw's Brody Gude accounted for three of the Tigers' five sacks.
Noteworthy, one of the headlines heading into the game was both teams' rushing defenses, both of which entered the week in the top 35 in Div. III. Neither team found any daylight on the ground as the defenses combined to hold the offenses to negative 31 net yards rushing on 58 carries. Andries' 9-yard scramble near the end of the second quarter marked the longest run of the game by either team.
Wooster's win snapped DePauw's four-game winning streak in the series, and it's just the third time the Scots have won in the now nine all-time meetings.
Next, Wooster travels to Crawfordsville, Ind. for a 2 p.m. tilt with Wabash College (3-0, 2-0 NCAC) on Sept. 29.