WILMINGTON, Ohio - The Wilmington College football team built a 21-0 lead and hung on to defeat Capital University 41-34 in the final Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) football game at Williams Stadium on Saturday.
The first three drives of the game for both teams couldn't have gone better for Wilmington. The Fightin' Quakers' defense didn't allow the Crusaders a first down while the offense scored touchdowns on three consecutive drives of under four minutes. Kyle Barrett hit Itika Wynn Jr. and Deshawn Maddox for scores and Gino Hinton Jr. scampered for a 30-yard score.
Trailing 21-0, Capital moved the chains for the first time in the game on a 15-yard reception from David Barnett and scored three plays later as Justin McClelland hit Mike Smith for a 55-yard score. Seemingly unphased, the Wilmington offense promptly went 67 yards in five plays and scored on the first play of the second quarter when Barrett found Luke Richardson for a 21-yard score. The point-average attempt was blocked, and the hosts held a 27-7 lead.
Both teams scored on their next possessions as Mitchell Machock hooked up with Evin Butler for an eight-yard score for the Crusaders while Barrett found Wynn Jr. for their second touchdown hookup of the game. Capital drove into Wilmington territory towards the end of the first half, but the Quaker defense forced an incompletion and took a 34-14 lead into halftime.
The second half didn't go as planned for the home team. Both teams scored once in the third quarter, but the Crusaders opened the fourth with a touchdown. A pooch kick on the kickoff that followed turned into a successful onside kick that setup the visitors inside Wilmington territory.
"It's been a pattern all season long, especially at home, to start quickly and not come out of halftime with the same focus in the second half," Head Coach Bryan Moore said. "That's my responsibility to get that fixed. We went away from some favorable matchups in the second half."
Wilmington's defense stepped up once again, however, as Trenis Brown intercepted McClelland to give the ball back to the offense up 41-27. The Quakers couldn't punch in the sealing score, however, and the Crusaders got within a touchdown on a 48-yard touchdown pass with 3:34 to play.
The Quakers recovered the onside kick attempt, and after two timeouts, Wilmington faced a 3rd-and-5 from the Capital 38-yard line to win the game. Barrett's attempted short pass was intercepted by Capital and returned into Wilmington territory. The visitors promptly completed two passes for first downs to the Quakers 13-yard line, but after two incompletions, Eli Berner sealed the game with an interception on a tipped pass.
"We inherited these seniors from the previous coaching staff and they stuck with me," said Moore. "They've done a great job of setting a different standard for our program. It was critical to send them out the appropriate way."
Capital did slightly outgain Wilmington, 509-453, though the Quakers had a 168-68 edge in the rushing game. Both teams converted on 36 percent of their third down conversions and threw two interceptions.
Individually, Barrett completed 18-of-27 through the air for 285 yards and four touchdowns. Hinton Jr. rushed for 72 yards and a score while Wynn Jr. hauled in five receptions for 128 yards and two scores.
Capital employed a two-quarterback approach as both McClelland and Machock threw for over 200 yards and one interception. The two combined for five touchdowns including two to Smith, who hauled in 10 total receptions for 149 yards. Barnett, Capital's all-time leading receiver, also tallied a 100-yard receiving game.
Defensively, Tre'Quez Parks finished with 11 total tackles while Ameer Jackson had two tackles for loss including one sack. Berner and Brown had the interceptions for Wilmington.
Kole Carter had seven tackles for the Crusaders while Malcolm Wiggins had the interception late in the fourth quarter.
Wilmington (2-7, 2-6 OAC) will conclude its 2019 season at Otterbein University next Saturday. A win would give the Quakers their first three-win season since 2008.