SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Senior quarterback Gary Muntean surpassed 3,000 yards passing on the season, and broke The College of Wooster's career record for yards of total offense on a 79-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Nick Strausbaugh, but the Fighting Scots were unable to overcome a trio of early interceptions in a 47-21 loss at 12th-ranked Wittenberg University in the season finale on Saturday afternoon at Edwards-Maurer Field.
Wooster (6-4, 5-4 North Coast Athletic Conference) looked to establish an underneath game with Strausbaugh in the early going, and on the Scots' second drive, Muntean connected with Strausbaugh on back-to-back completions of nine and eight yards. Of note, the first completion moved Muntean past his own school record for passing yards in a season, as the veteran signal-caller entered the day one yard shy of his last year total. However, the drive ultimately stopped on an interception by Wittenberg's (10-0, 9-0 NCAC) Jack Kayser at the Tigers' 36-yard line.
Eventually, Strausbaugh's work underneath paid off over the top as Muntean placed a well-timed throw to the speedy sophomore to put Wooster on the board with 8:31 to go in the half on the 79-yard strike.
Prior to Wooster's touchdown, Wittenberg jumped out to a 27-0 lead, in large part due to a pair of big plays offensively that complemented the three interceptions. Liam Duncan extended the nose of the ball over the goal line on a 47-yard pass from Kennedy for the game's first score with 7:56 left in the first quarter.
On the next drive, Jaheem Washington capped a six-play, 56-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, and on the next series, the Tigers' Jeff Tiffner took the handoff on the sweep and completed a 48-yard pass to Deshawn Sarley that made it 20-0 with :07 left in the first quarter.
The Scots nearly made an impressive goal line stand in the second quarter, but Ryan Fallon scooted in from a yard out to bump the lead out to 27-0 with 9:17 left in the opening half.
Later, Wooster was well on its way to a big break in the final stages of the first half thanks to an interception by sophomore Christian Santos at the Scots' own 34-yard line. Santos weaved his way through the Tigers' den until Scott Turner pried the ball free during the return. Wooster's defense quickly regrouped with freshman Danté Fair blindsiding Jake Kennedy for a 10-yard sack on the ensuing drive's third-down play. In fact, Wooster had two late sacks in the opening half as sophomore K.C. Okoronkwo and junior Trent Leggett dragged Kennedy down for a 2-yard loss on the play prior to Santos' pick.
Wooster's big plays on defense carried over to the third quarter when junior Hunter Coia capped an impressive stand by stopping Sarley two yards shy of the first down marker when Wittenberg went for it on fourth down.
Two drives later, Muntean and Strausbaugh connected on the first play of the drive for a 40-yard touchdown to pull Wooster within 27-14. Notable, the reception marked Strausbaugh's 11th on the year of at least 40 yards in length.
Wittenberg bounced back with a pair of scores, capped with a 1-yard run by Washington to bump the Tigers' lead out to 26 at 40-14 with 1:40 to go in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Muntean hooked up with Strausbaugh for the third time of the game, this time from seven yards out. That marked Strausbaugh's 17th touchdown reception of the year, and the Div. III co-leaders entered the weekend at 16.
Wooster had new life when senior Patrick Johnson forced a fumble on the ensuing drive after the Scots' final touchdown, which setup Wooster at its own 28-yard line. However, the Scots weren't able to string anything together and were forced to punt it away.
Wittenberg added a late 11-yard touchdown by Quinn Cook to Andrew Tate to close out the scoring.
Muntean turned in a 16-for-26 day for 226 yards, three touchdowns and the three interceptions. Notable, the senior capped his career as the program's career leader in total offense (9,041 yards), passing yards (8,295), passing touchdowns (65), completion percentage (62.1), and passing efficiency points (145.6).
Strausbaugh went for 174 yards on eight receptions with the three scores to bring his season total in yards to 1,294. Of note, Strausbaugh's 24.4 yards per catch marked a new single-season program record for those with at least 50 receptions in a season.
Freshman Beau Greenwood paced the defense with 12 tackles, while Johnson added nine.
During the game, Wooster broke or added to seven single-season team offensive records, most notably passing yards (3,232) and passing touchdowns (35).
Kennedy completed 19-of-30 throws for 302 yards and a pair of scores, and on the receiving end, Duncan and Thaddeus Snodgrass surpassed the century mark.
Jeremy Asiffo paced Wittenberg's defense with nine tackles.
Wooster's six wins mark a two-win improvement from last year, and the Scots finished above .500 for the first time since 2013.