A 21-yard touchdown pass from senior Gary Muntean to sophomore Nick Strausbaugh just before halftime was responsible for three school records, and it marked the duo's fourth touchdown on the afternoon, as The College of Wooster jumped out to a big lead, and then warded off a late charge by host Kenyon College during a 51-41 win on Saturday afternoon at McBride Field in Gambier, Ohio.
While the Scots continued to tear apart the record book offensively, more importantly, the win marked Wooster's (6-2, 5-2 North Coast Athletic Conference) sixth of the year, and guarantees the team will finish above .500 for the first time since the 2013 season.
Wooster was already ahead 17-7 when Muntean and Strausbaugh went to work, thanks to a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by junior Antonio Bailey and a 41-yard field goal by senior Trevor Bowden, all in the first quarter. On the Scots' third offensive play in the second quarter, Wooster dialed up the long ball, and it resulted in a 64-yard touchdown from Muntean to Strausbaugh. Of note, the 64-yard strike marked the fourth completion between the duo of at least 60 yards in length this year.
After Kenyon (0-8, 0-7) cut its deficit to 24-14 with 10:38 to go in the half, Muntean went back to Strausbaugh to cap a 7-play, 62-yard drive with a highlight-reel touchdown that featured Strausbaugh securing a triple-clutch catch on his way to the ground with a Lords' defender draped on his back.
Next, after a three-and-out by the Scots' defense, a 29-yard Muntean-to-Strausbaugh touchdown capped a quick 4-play, 60-yard drive and pushed the score out to 37-14.
Finally, a record-setting 21-yard Muntean-to-Strausbaugh touchdown with :17 left in the half pushed Wooster's lead to 44-14. That touchdown marked Muntean's 60th for his career, moving the veteran signal-caller past W Association Hall of Famer Rich Judd for the most in program history. On the receiving end, it marked Strausbaugh's 13th of the year, which tied Darrian Owens for the most in a season, and the four touchdowns matched Wooster's single-game record, most recently tied by Nick Cummings in last year's Hiram College contest.
Notable, in the midst of all the touchdowns, Strausbaugh surpassed 1,000 yards for the season and joined Richie McNally, who had 1,060 yards in 2004, as the only 1,000-yard receivers in a season in program history.
For the game, Strausbaugh turned eight receptions into 212 yards – the second-most in a game – and moved up to a tie for fifth on the career receiving touchdowns list, despite this being his only season thus far on the gridiron.
Kenyon struck first in the second half with a 7-play, 81-yard drive that ended with a 38-yard Thomas Merkle-to-Daniel Russell touchdown to pull the Lords within 44-21.
Wooster answered right back with a spectacular 17-yard touchdown scamper by Bailey that pushed the lead back to 30 after Bowden's extra point. The touchdown, Bailey's third, marked a career-high for the Duluth, Ga. native.
Kenyon really clicked in the fourth quarter, and had a chance to pull within a touchdown and two-point conversion when Merkle found Ian Robertson from 22 yards out with :31 remaining. However, the two-point conversion was broken up by the Scots, and freshman Caden Croft recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the 10-point win.
The Scots turned in several key moments in the game defensively, chief among them a 12-yard sack by junior Marcus Bowers that led to a punt right before the first Muntean-to-Strausbaugh touchdown, and later freshman Cam Pollard recorded his second interception over the last three games.
Additionally, Wooster was the beneficiary of a big play in the third quarter when freshman Twyan Reynolds pried the ball out of the hands of Brandon Byrd and it wound up rolling and getting pushed out of bounds by a Kenyon lineman for a touchback.
For the game, Bailey led the way offensively with a career-high 165 yards on a 30 carries, while Muntean was 21-for-29 for 384 yards in the passing department.
Defensively, junior Hunter Coia led the charge with a career-high 10 tackles, and he had a pair of key tackles for loss, including a 7-yard sack.
Merkle fired five passing touchdowns as part of his 41-for-62 stat line, and those 41 completions went for 386 yards, 163 of which went to Robertson spread out over 14 receptions.
Defensively, Curt Williams logged a game-high 12 tackles while Jacob LaPoint had three sacks and a fumble recovery.
Next, Wooster hosts Denison University (4-3, 3-3 NCAC) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4. Prior to the game, the Scots' will recognize their nine-member senior class on the field.