WOOSTER, Ohio – The College of Wooster football team's defense was on point all afternoon with three interceptions, seven sacks, and four fourth-down stops, and the offense was equally as impressive, as the Fighting Scots downed co-North Coast Athletic Conference-leading Wabash College 24-10 on Saturday afternoon at John P. Papp Stadium. The win marked the first for the Scots over the Little Giants since 2004.
Wooster (3-2, 2-2 NCAC) capped its first defensive series with an interception for the third straight game, and this time it was senior Christian Santos logging the takeaway. He stepped in front of a Wabash (3-2, 3-1 NCAC) receiver, and picked off Liam Thompson at the Little Giants' 31-yard line. From there, it was a heavy dosage of sophomore Troy Baughman, who scored from a yard out after four carries. The Scots' running back started the drive with a 22-yard burst, and he rumbled down to the Little Giants' two-yard line on his second tote of the day.
Senior K.C. Okoronkwo spilled Thompson for a loss of three on the Little Giants' second play of the afternoon that took place inside the red zone. Junior Mark Herron broke up a pass intended for Cooper Sullivan two players later, which helped set up a 25-yard Schuyler Nehrig field goal try. Nehrig pulled his kick wide right, something perhaps partially attributed to junior Kea'Shaun Phillips, who broke through Wabash's line, but was just a whisker too late to get there in time for the block.
Wooster doubled its lead at the 5:12 mark of the first quarter, as sophomore Cole Hissong broke past his man and hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from classmate Mateo Renteria.
Wabash was within 14-10 after Nehrig earned redemption with a 27-yard field goal with 4:35 left in the opening half. Prior to that, Thompson placed a 57-yard touchdown pass into the hands of Devon Anderson for the Little Giants' first score of the afternoon.
Wooster answered Nehrig's field goal with a touchdown, as the Scots marched 65 yards on 11 plays, which covered 4:07 late in the first half. Renteria rolled to his right on the scoring play, and that gave freshman Charlie Henegar enough time to get open, catch the pass, and dash into the end zone on an 18-yard score. Freshman Lake Barrett's extra point upped the lead to 21-10 with :35 left in the second quarter.
Wabash twice was stopped on fourth-and-short in the third quarter. First, senior Robert Alvarez and junior Beau Greenwood bottled up Ike James, who entered the week sixth among Div. III running backs in yards per game, at the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and-1 play. On the next drive, it was sophomore Kellen Calhoun and junior Eric Kraus chasing down Heisman Skeens on a wide receiver sweep, and the duo tackled him two stripes shy of the first-down marker.
Wooster's defense caused all sorts of problems for Wabash in the fourth quarter starting with junior Mark Herron's interception in the end zone on the quarter's first play. Sophomore Dorion Talley and junior Bryce Gresham both deflected the pigskin prior to Herron securing the Scots' second pick of the game. Next, Phillips greeted Wabash with a three-yard sack on the opening play of the Little Giants' next drive. Later in that drive, Okoronkwo knocked Thompson back six more yards on a second-and-10 play, and Kraus logged the final sack of the day on the third-down play.
Barrett's 32-yard field goal with 2:17 left upped the lead to 14, while Greenwood clinched the game with an interception with just over 90 seconds left. Alvarez factored into the interception as well, as he hit Thompson as the ball was released.
Renteria completed 17-of-27 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, while Hissong led the receivers with four receptions and 75 yards. Baughman carried the ball 18 times for 76 stripes.
Santos' 11 tackles led all players, while Okoronkwo was a familiar face in the Little Giants' backfield with three tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Thompson was 24-of-41 for 312 yards on the afternoon, but he had three interceptions. Nick Hamman was the go-to target with nine receptions for 99 yards.
Wabash, which rushed for 300 yards last year against Wooster, was kept in check on the ground. The Little Giants averaged 2.8 yards per tote, and James was limited to 46 yards, nearly 100 below his 141.3 per-game average coming into play.
Brandon Yeagy led Wabash's defense with 10 tackles.
Next, Wooster hosts Denison University (4-1, 3-1 NCAC) as part of Black & Gold Weekend. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 19.