HIRAM, Ohio – The College of Wooster football team opened with a school record 97-yard kickoff return, connected on a 55-yard trick play for a touchdown on the first play after a diving interception by Patrick Johnson, and broke or matched seven school records during an exciting 58-25 win over Hiram College on Saturday afternoon at Charles A. Henry Field.
Cam Pollard was the recipient of the game's opening kick, and with the help of a plethora of blocks weaved his way through the first line of the Terriers' (2-5, 1-5 NCAC) kick coverage before sprinting past the rest of Hiram's coverage unit for opening score. Of note, the 97 yards Pollard covered on the touchdown marked the longest kick return in program history, besting the previous mark of 93 yards set by Bryan Albani against Case Western Reserve University on Oct. 10, 2009.
Pollard's big play was a foresight of things to come as the Scots (5-2, 4-2 NCAC) had a banner day all over the field.
Offensively, Gary Muntean drew in Hiram's defense with a hard play fake, and that enabled Jacob Lewis to break free down the sideline for a 56-yard touchdown reception that doubled Wooster's lead at 14-0 with 9:03 to go in the first quarter.
Sticking with Muntean, the senior hit sophomore Nick Strausbaugh in stride on a 30-yard strike to extend Wooster's lead to 30-6 with 11:47 remaining in the second quarter. Fast forwarding to the third quarter, the duo capped another strong day with a 24-yard touchdown connection with :44 to go in the frame. Of note, that marked Muntean's fifth touchdown pass of the day, and it tied the single-game program record, which Muntean was already a part of from his five-touchdown day versus Hiram last season. Overall, it marked the sixth five-touchdown game in program history, and Muntean joined W Association Hall of Famer Rich Judd as the only student-athletes in program history with multiple five-touchdown games.
That was just one of three records set by Muntean on the afternoon. In the second quarter, a touchdown just before the half – a 13-yarder to Connor Allan – marked Muntean's 22nd touchdown pass of the year, moving the veteran past Judd's 1997 single-season program record. Allan was also the recipient of the completion and yardage that moved Muntean past former Wooster great Richard Barnes for the most passing yards in program history.
Muntean added a 35-yard touchdown to Antonio Bailey in the third quarter, while Jack Marousek rounded out the scoring late in the fourth quarter with a 4-yard touchdown strike to Keetrone Singleton. Of note Marousek's touchdown was the seventh passing one on the day by the team, and that one-upped the single-game program record set back in 1997. In fact, Wooster's seven passing touchdowns on the day brought the Scots' season total to 26, and that's three better than the old single-season record set in 1997 and matched in 1999.
Switching to the defense, Johnson thwarted a Hiram drive with a sliding interception at Wooster's 45-yard line in the first quarter, and the Scots went to the bag of trick plays right after with Strausbaugh connecting with classmate Jason Cerniglia for a 55-yard touchdown that made it 21-0 with 6:44 to go in the opening quarter.
On the next drive, Wooster forced Hiram into a three-and-out, and a bad punt setup the Scots' offense at the Terriers' 32-yard line. While that drive stalled at Hiram's 3-yard line, the Scots did get points on the board thanks to a 20-yard field goal by Trevor Bowden that rounded out the 24 unanswered points Wooster had to start the game.
Continuing with the defense, Wooster only had five sacks on the season entering play, and the Scots more than doubled the season output with six, four of which came in the second half. Sophomore Robert Alvarez led the way with 4.5 sacks, and that's a half-sack better than the single-game program record previously shared by Henry Adams from a 1989 contest and Andy Mizak's four-sack game back in 2004.
Hiram put points on the board for the first time of the afternoon on the second quarter's first play when Randy Tucker found DJ Franklin from 17 yards out. The duo connected twice more in the second quarter from 13 and 15 yards out to pull within 37-18, but the Terriers were unable to connect on a point after try. In fact, the two-point conversion on the Terriers' middle second-quarter touchdown was intercepted by junior Marcus Bowers.
The Terriers' last score was a 2-yard dart from Isaiah Jones with 4:43 remaining in the game.
On the day, Muntean completed 14-of-25 throws for 254 yards and the five scores, and he was two stripes shy of 100 yards rushing.
Bailey turned in a big day out of the backfield with 80 yards rushing to pair with a team-high 76 yards receiving.
Speaking of receiving, while Strausbaugh's run of 100-yard games ended at five, the sophomore did turn three receptions into 65 yards, and in doing so, surpassed 800 yards on the year.
Defensively, Alvarez logged a team-high 11 tackles and turned his 5.5 tackles for loss into 33 negative yards for Hiram. Alvarez was backed up in the tackle column by six each from junior Hunter Coia and Johnson.
Hiram's Danny Robinson broke free for over 200 yards rushing in each of the last two games, and while he did get to 100 yards in the game, the Scots kept him in check with seven touches for 38 yards after halftime.
Sirahn Fields paced Hiram with 11 tackles.
Next, Wooster remains on the road with a 1 p.m. tilt at Kenyon College (0-7, 0-6 NCAC).