The College of Wooster (6-3, 5-3 North Coast Athletic Conference), vying for a finish in the top four of the NCAC standings, has a tall order on hand as the Fighting Scots cap the 2017 season with this Saturday's 1 p.m. tilt at 12th-ranked Wittenberg University (9-0, 8-0 NCAC), which has already clinched at least a share of the NCAC title and the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Div. III Championships.
Wooster will be looking to rebound from a 36-26 loss at home to Denison, which maintained possession of the "Old Red Lantern" for the fourth straight year with the win. Wittenberg is coming off of a 42-23 win over Ohio Wesleyan University on Saturday in what marked Joe Fincahm's 200th career win.
On the Air: Wittenberg will carry this week's contest at http://wittenbergtigers.com/broadcast/WittFB. This week's game can be heard on WKVX 960 AM and online at http://wqkt.com.
All-Time Series: Wittenberg leads the all-time series, which dates back to 1912, 38-12-1. The Tigers have won the last eight meetings, and hold a 20-3-1 all-time record in Springfield, Ohio. Wooster last won 27-6 in 2008, and hasn't won on the road in the series since 1949.
Last Meeting: On Oct. 1, 2016, Wooster's defense stole the spotlight early with two three-and-outs to start the game before then-17th-ranked Wittenberg found its groove offensively en route to a 41-13 win. Wittenberg gained 554 yards of total offense with Jake Kennedy leading the way with a 16-for-23 afternoon for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Luke Landis turned six receptions into 127 yards and a touchdown. Wooster's Gary Muntean (Poland, Ohio/Struthers) completed 23-of-32 throws for 257 yards while Antonio Bailey (Duluth, Ga./Meadowcreek) logged a pair of touchdowns on the ground.
Offense Notes: Muntean, whose mobility was limited with an injury, delivered a gutsy performance on "senior day" by completing 26-of-52 throws against Denison. Muntean, who finished the game with 347 yards through the air, upped his season total to 2,939 yards, one shy of his single-season school record of 2,940 set last year. Muntean added a pair of passing touchdowns, including one of the game's final play, which marked the signal-caller's 30th of the season. During Saturday's game, Muntean surpassed his own single-season program record for yards of total offense set last year at 3,140, and he's up to 3,325 entering this week. In fact, Muntean's 22 yards behind Richard Barnes for the most career yards of total offense in program history. Entering the week, Muntean's sixth in Div. III in passing yards, seventh in passing touchdowns, and ninth in passing efficiency (174.2). Sophomore Nick Strausbaugh (Fredericksburg, Ohio/Waynedale) was the recipient of Muntean's final touchdown pass at John P. Papp Stadium, and that marked the 14th of the season for Strausbaugh, moving him into solo possession of first-place on the program's single-season list. Earlier in the game, Strausbaugh broke Richie McNally's 2004 single-season record for receiving yards (1,060), and the Scots' sophomore is fifth in Div. III with 1,120 yards on the year. Bailey has been on a tear of late in the rushing department with 470 yards and five scores over the last four games, and he surpassed 750 yards on the season in last week's contest. In fact, with 16 yards, Bailey will equal his combined total of yards on the ground from his freshman and sophomore years, as will he in the carries department with nine more totes. Seniors Drake Schwenke (Ladera Ranch, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) and Patrick Mohorcic (Highland Hts., Ohio/Gilmour Academy) project to make their 38th and 30th career starts respectively on the offensive line this week.
Defense Notes: Senior Patrick Johnson (Homewood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor) upped his team lead in tackles to 63, and he's now one of four in the NCAC with at least three forced fumbles on the year. In fact, Wooster forced and recovered two fumbles on Saturday, and the Scots now have 17 takeaways on the year, a total tied for third in the conference and two more than last year. Should the Scots record an interception on Saturday, it would mark the team's 11th of the year, and it'll mark the most since Wooster had 17 in 2013. Junior Marcus Bowers (Roseville, Mich./Fraser) has found success in the pass rush of late, and he's been in on at least half a sack in each of the last three games, including two solo sacks last Saturday against Denison. Freshmen Beau Greenwood (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) and Danté Fair (Pataskala, Ohio/Watkins Memorial) are tied for second on the team with 58 tackles, while sophomore Christian Santos (Yeadon, Pa./Penn Wood Senior) rounds out the quartet of Scots with at least 50 stops on the year.
Special Teams Notes: Junior Trent Leggett (Waynesburg, Ohio/Carrollton) blocked two kicks last Saturday, the first two by the Scots this season. Wooster attempted and recovered an onside kick against Denison late in the fourth quarter, with Johnson coming up with the recovery. Freshman Drake Pence (Lexington, Ohio/East Knox) leads Wooster with nine special teams tackles on the year, eight of which have come on kickoff coverage. Senior Trevor Bowden (Eatonton, Ga./Gatewood Schools) and freshman Mark Herron (Youngstown, Ohio/Chaney) also head eight tackles on the kickoff coverage unit. Bowden booted a 58-yard punt on Saturday, and it marked his second boot of the year over 55 yards.