Fresh off its first season-opening win on the road since 2005, The College of Wooster football team (1-0) opens North Coast Athletic Conference play with this Saturday's 1 p.m. clash with rival Allegheny College (0-1). Wooster is coming off a 44-34 win at Bluffton University, and the Scots have now started the season with a win in back-to-back years for the first time since winning five straight openers from 2002-06. Coincidentally, the Scots opened each of those five seasons with a 2-0 record. Allegheny was within six of No. 25 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at halftime on Saturday, but the Engineers pulled away down the stretch for a 40-19 win.
Live Coverage: MCTV will carry this week's contest online at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/wooster/. MCTV customers living in Wayne and Stark Counties can also catch the replay with first airings scheduled for Ch. 22 (SD) at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Ch. 621 (HD) at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Fans are encouraged to check local listings for additional replay times. WKVX 960 AM will carry this week's contest live and online at https://wqkt.com.
All-Time Series: Allegheny leads the all-time series 20-18, but Wooster's been on a roll of late, and is riding a five-game winning streak heading into Saturday's showdown. The series dates back to 1905, a game won by Wooster 38-16 that kick-started a seven-game series winning streak for the Scots. Allegheny has the longest winning streak in the series at 14, with those games taking place from 1984-98. The Gators also have a three-game lead in the series in games played at Wooster.
Last Meeting: Wooster played catch-up for most of the first half, until a fumble forced by sophomore Beau Greenwood (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) with under two minutes remaining moved Wooster into the driver's seat, as the Scots ran away with an eventual 49-35 win. Wooster trailed by a touchdown at three different junctures in the first half, and had just rallied to knot the score at 21 prior to Greenwood prying the ball loose from Jake Wilson, and setting the Scots up at the Gators' 40-yard line. Graduate Gary Muntean darted into the end zone from two yards out to cap the ensuing drive and put Wooster back on top, and a 10-yard third-quarter touchdown run by senior Antonio Bailey (Duluth, Ga./Meadowcreek) put the Scots up for good.
Offense Notes: Bailey led the way offensively during Saturday's win over Bluffton with 21 carries for 124 yards and two scores, one of which came from 46 yards out. Sophomore Caden Croft (Coshocton, Ohio/Riverview) was 23-for-33 for 202 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his collegiate debut at quarterback. Thanks to fantastic play by the defense and special teams, Wooster's offense took over in Bluffton territory four times during Saturday's win, and the Scots came away with points on each possession. The Scots continued to roll the dice often on fourth down, and Wooster converted three of its five fourth-down conversions.
Defense Notes: Wooster's defense made its presence felt from the get go and came away with four takeaways in the Bluffton game, three of which came in the first half. Senior Marcus Bowers (Roseville, Mich./Fraser) took charge with a fumble recovery on Bluffton's second possession. That recovery gave the offense possession on Bluffton's 29-yard line, and the ensuing drive resulted in the Scots' first points of the year. Senior Cornelius Gyamfi (Atlanta, Ga./Chamblee) forced a fumble two drives later, and junior Robert Alvarez (Fort Washington, Md./Riverdale Baptist School) eventually scooped up the pigskin and ran it back 33 yards for a score. That play marked Wooster's first fumble return for a touchdown on an opponent's rushing play since Jeff Geffert had one against Case Western Reserve University in 2007. Sophomore Cam Pollard (Cleveland, Ohio/John Hay) recorded a second-quarter interception and added a pick on a two-point conversion with 2:46 remaining that preserved Wooster's 10-point lead. Alvarez forced a fumble in the third quarter to account for Wooster's fourth takeaway of the game. Noteworthy, Wooster's defense also logged four takeaways last year against Bluffton.
Special Teams Notes: The season-opener marked the kicking debut of sophomore Henry Whyte (North Huntington, Pa./Norwin), who went 5-for-6 on extra point tries, and knocked through his lone field goal attempt from 27 yards out. Junior Grady McHugh (Coatesville, Ind./South Putnam) averaged 32.0 yards over four punts, and similar to last year, the Scots did turn to the quick kick from the quarterback position with Croft chipping a pair of punts a combined 75 yards. First-years Eric Kraus (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) and Angelo Petracci (Youngstown, Ohio/Canfield) smothered Bluffton's punter in the backfield after a bad snap, and that set the Scots up on the Beavers' 15-yard line in the third quarter.
This and That: Wooster is 5-0 in conference openers under sixth-year head coach Frank Colaprete, with three of those five wins coming against Allegheny. Colaprete's coaching career started at Allegheny, where he was the defensive backs coach for the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Former standout linebacker Mitchell Czerniak is in his first season as the Gators' safeties coach. Wooster has 14 student-athletes from Pennsylvania on its 2018 roster, and it's the only state outside of Ohio where at least 10 players hail from.