WOOSTER, Ohio – Junior Antonio Bailey's 14-yard touchdown run pushed The College of Wooster ahead of Denison University 16-14 early in the third quarter before the Big Red scored the next 23 points en route to a 36-26 victory over the Fighting Scots on Saturday afternoon at John P. Papp Stadium.
With the win, Denison (6-3, 5-3 North Coast Athletic Conference) maintains the "Old Red Lantern" for the fourth straight year and pulls within a game of tying the all-time series standings.
Denison struck first on a 7-yard touchdown run by Alex Minton that capped a 6-play, 30-yard drive after Tristan Knoer set up the Big Red with prime field position with a forced and recovered fumble on Wooster's (6-3, 5-3 NCAC) punt return that followed on the heels of a spectacular three-and-out on the Scots' defense's first series.
|Junior Antonio Bailey rushed for 122 yards marking the third time in the last four games he's been over the century mark.|
That's where the score stood until Bailey knifed in from three yards out with 11:38 to go in the second quarter, and senior Trevor Bowden's extra point tied the game at seven. Bailey did most of the heavy lifting on the scoring drive with three carries for 32 yards, including a 23-yarder. The Scots were also aided by a nifty 29-yard punt return by freshman Cam Pollard, who scooped up a bouncing punt at the Scots' 34-yard line and scooted upfield to the Big Red's 37-yard line.
Later in the second quarter, Joshua Shackleford burst into the end zone from six yards out, but junior Trent Leggett tipped the extra point try, the first of two blocks on the day by the defensive tackle. That paved the way for the Scots to take the lead on Bailey's 14-yard touchdown run with 13:27 left in the third quarter
Just before the touchdown, senior Gary Muntean hooked up with sophomore Nick Strausbaugh on a 42-yard completion, and that was the yardage Strausbaugh needed to surpass Richie McNally for the most in a single season in program history.
Wooster's early third quarter touchdown drive was actually initiated on the defensive side of the field. Senior Patrick Johnson knocked the ball out of Minton's hands on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, and stayed with the play to scoop up the fumble and run it 10 yards upfield.
Later, a short punt gave Denison the ball on Wooster's side of the field, and the Big Red were driving in large part due to a 15-yard pass from Canaan Gebele to C.J. Davis, but Wooster's defense regrouped and forced Denison to settled for a 39-yard Pat Kramer field goal which put the Big Red up for good at 16-14 with 3:47 to go in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Malik Webster had a step on Wooster's secondary and Gebele didn't miss a beat with a 56-yard touchdown strike that bumped Denison's lead out to 22-14. From there, a pair of Big Red interceptions played a key role in extending Denison's lead out to 36-14 when David Heyer tipped a Muntean pass at the line of scrimmage and then gathered the ball in at the Scots' 5-yard line with a clear path to the end zone.
Two drives earlier, Ryan Zinkula picked off Muntean at Wooster's 47-yard line and ran it back to the five where Gebele took over for a 5-yard touchdown to Jack Dorenkott to make it 29-14 after the extra point with 11:51 to go.
Of note, Zinkula's first of two interceptions in the game marked just the second for Muntean this season, and he attempted an incredible 267 passes between his first interception on the year in the season-opener and today.
Wooster strung together a pair of scoring drives late, the first of which resulted in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Muntean to junior Russell Boston. The Scots worked some magic to extend the drive with Boston snaring a 4-yard catch on a fourth-and-2 play, junior Cyrus Boardman coming through with a clutch 26-yard reception on a fourth-and-13 play, and sophomore Jason Cerniglia keeping the chains moving with a 13-yard catch on a third-and-7 play.
Later, a roughing the passer penalty enabled Wooster one final chance for a score on an untimed down. Muntean did just that with a 5-yard touchdown strike to Strausbaugh with the touchdown marking Muntean's 30th of the season, and it marked Strausbaugh's 14th of the year.
For the game, Muntean completed 26-of-52 passes for 347 yards and the pair of scores. Of note, the signal-caller broke his own single-season record for yards of total offense and is now at 3,325, while in the passing column, he's at 2,939 for the year, one shy of his single-season school record set last year.
In the receiving department Strausbaugh turned four receptions into 89 yards, and in doing so, surpassed 1,100 stripes on the year.
Not to be overlooked was Bailey's fine game on the ground as the junior plunged ahead for 122 yards on 24 carries and now has three 100-yard games over the last four outings.
Defensively, Johnson led the way with 10 tackles while sophomore D'Andre Brown and Leggett each had eight.
Gebele was super efficient in the passing column with a 12-for-19 day that featured 212 yards and two scores. Webster was responsible for 95 yards on three catches.
The Scots' defense did a fine job defending the run as Wooster held Minton to 94 yards on 20 carries, while Gebele only had 21 yards rushing on 14 totes.
Denison's Brice Winans led all tacklers with 11, while Hayden Hatten recorded three of Denison's 10 sacks on the afternoon.
Wooster closes out its season next Saturday, Nov. 11, when the Scots travel to No. 13 Wittenberg University (9-0, 8-0 NCAC). Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.