Wooster Squares off Against First Nationally-Ranked Foe of Year on Saturday

Hunter Coia

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The College of Wooster (3-1, 2-1 North Coast Athletic Conference) takes on its first nationally-ranked team of the year as Wabash College (3-0, 2-0 NCAC), No. 25 in this week's D3football.com Top 25, makes the trip from Crawfordsville, Ind. for Saturday's 1 p.m. contest.

Wooster is looking to bounce back from a 51-24 defeat at the conference's other Indiana institution, DePauw University, last week Saturday. A win Saturday would give Wooster three straight wins at home within the same season for the first time since 2008, when the Scots went a perfect 5-0 at home. The 2008 season seems to be a common theme thus far in 2017 as that's the last time Wooster won its season-opener and started 3-0, both boxes already checked off by this year's team.

Wabash survived a homecoming scare to Hiram College last Saturday, eventually taking the lead for good in the early stages of the fourth quarter during a 25-21 win. This will mark the first road contest for the Little Giants this season.

On the Air: 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 in standard definition on Ch. 22 at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, 12 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, or watch in high definition over on Ch. 621 at 8 p.m. on Saturday, 9 a.m. on Sunday, and 9 p.m. on Monday. WKVX 960 AM will carry this week's contest live and online at http://wqkt.com.

Clayton Geib Remembrance T-Shirts: The Wooster football parents group will be selling Clayton Geib remembrance t-shirts this Saturday outside of John P. Papp Stadium. T-shirts are $10 for students and $20 for adults.

All-Time Series: Wabash leads the all-time series 19-2, and the Little Giants have won the last 12 meetings. Wabash, 9-1 all-time at Wooster, won 55-7 in its last trip to John P. Papp Stadium. Wooster's two wins in the series came during the 2003-04 seasons. In both wins, the Scots returned an interception for a touchdown - a 68-yarder by Nick Hajjar in 2003 and a 20-yard one by Chris Craig in 2004.

Last Meeting: On Oct. 22, 2016, Wooster completed its longest pass in over 25 years, and the Scots pulled within a touchdown with :36 remaining in the third quarter, but No. 18 Wabash kept Wooster's offense in check down the stretch during a 34-24 win at Crawfordsville, Ind. Wooster made it a 14-10 game with 8:32 to go in the half when Gary Muntean (Poland, Ohio/Struthers) set up a screen pass to Antonio Bailey (Duluth, Ga./Meadowcreek) that went for 87 yards, marking the longest pass in program history since the school-record 91-yard Vic Rowcliffe-to-Phil Puryear touchwon pass against Case Western Reserve University on Sept. 29, 1990.

Offense Notes: Muntean enters the week with 1,362 yards passing, two shy of where he was through four games last year. However, in the touchdown department, Muntean's eight ahead of where he was at this point last year with 13, and that's only two behind his 2016 season total. Even more impressive, Muntean's completion percentage is up 10 percentage points from his four-game mark last year, and Muntean's .706 mark this year is ninth in Div. III. In fact, Muntean, who set Wooster's single-season record for yards of total offense last year at 3,140, is on pace to enter the top 10 in that category again this week as he's at 1,898 through four games, 107 behind W Association Hall of Famer Tony Sutton's 2003 total of 1,955. A large part of Muntean's success is attirbuted to sophomore sensation Nick Strausbaugh (Fredericksburg, Ohio/Waynedale), who is sixth nationally with 488 yards receiving. In fact, Strausbaugh has three straight 100-yard games. Overall, Wooster has four receivers with at least 13 receptions, and three of them have over 200 yards and at least three touchdowns as junior Connor Allan (East Aurora, N.Y./East Aurora) and sophomore Jacob Lewis (Silver Creek, N.Y./Silver Creek Central) join Strausbaugh in that department. Bailey continues to lead the team in rushing with 278 yards on the season, and he's just as effective in the passing game with 133 yards there. First-year Eli Lohrey (Hamilton, Ohio/Edgewood) is this week's projected starter at right guard.

Defense Notes: Sophomore Christian Santos (Yeadon, Pa./Penn Wood Senior) upped his team-lead in tackles to 33 on Saturday thanks to a 11-tackle afternoon. In fact, Santos is the lone Scot to have a double-digit tackle game on the season, and he has two, with the other coming from a 10-tackle season debut against Bluffton. Freshman Beau Greenwood (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) and senior Patrick Johnson (Homewood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor) have combined to form a nice one-two punch in the Scots' secondary. On the first road trip of the season, Greenwood forced a critical fumble that was recovered from Johnson in advance of Wooster's offense taking over to give the Black & Gold the lead for good at Allegheny. Last Saturday, Greenwood returned the favor by cleaning up Johnson's forced fumble, and similar to the Allegheny game, Wooster's offense put points on the board from there. Johnson's enjoying a banner year as one of the conference's top defensive backs, as the senior is the lone NCAC defender with multiple interceptions on the year and ranks third in the league with five pass breakups. Wooster's top six tacklers on the team are all underclassmen. Sophomore D'Andre Brown (Atlanta, Ga./Benjamin E. Mays) leads the team with three sacks.

Special Teams Notes: Senior Trevor Bowden (Eatonton, Ga./Gatewood Schools) knocked his 18th career field goal through the uprights on Saturday, moving him into a tie with Bob Marcoritti (1969-72) and Ben Arnold (1996-99) for the third-most in program history. Sophomore Nick Lines (Newark, Ohio/Heath) continues to lead the team with six special teams tackles while classmate Jordan Patterson (Akron, Ohio/Cuyahoga Falls) and freshman Drake Pence (Lexington, Ohio/East Knox) each have four.