Wooster's Upset Bid Falls Short in Season Finale

WOOSTER, Ohio – Led by a spirited all-around effort and a career-high 171 yards rushing by senior Antonio Bailey, The College of Wooster football team went toe-to-toe with No. 21 Wittenberg University, but the Fighting Scots were unable to finish off the upset bid, and fell to the Tigers 27-21 on Saturday afternoon at John P. Papp Stadium.

Wooster (5-5, 4-5 North Coast Athletic Conference) found itself on the wrong side of a 27-7 game at halftime before storming back out to John P. Papp Stadium with a renewed purpose. Senior Russell Boston, who turned eight receptions into 86 yards in his final collegiate game, jump-started the offense with a 19-yard reception on the Scots' opening drive of the second half. Boston turned the torch over to Bailey, who sprung free from the Tigers for a 41-yard gain that moved the chains down to Wittenberg's 6-yard line on the very next play. However, Wittenberg's (9-1, 8-1 NCAC) Jonathan Seay slammed the brakes on Wooster's drive with a strip-sack on freshman quarterback Mateo Renteria.

Senior Marcus Bowers responded three plays later with a strip-sack of his own on Wittenberg signal-caller Jake Kennedy, and junior Nick Barto-Brown fell on the pigskin on the Tigers' 42-yard line.

Antonio Bailey
Senior Antonio Bailey finished his career with 2,501 yards rushing, thanks to a career-high 171 on "Senior Day."

Boston kept the chains moving on the ensuing drive with a 10-yard reception on a third-and-6 play, and Renteria scrambled down to the Tigers' 3-yard line shortly after. The Scots' turned to Bailey, who scored his second touchdown of the day from three yards out with 8:11 left in the third quarter, and sophomore Henry Whyte's extra point pulled Wooster within 27-14.

A rush for no gain and a 9-yard sack had Wooster facing third-and-19 from its own 15-yard line on its next offensive drive. Wooster's freshman class kept the mojo going with a 24-yard Renteria-to-Cole Hissong completion giving the Scots a fresh set of downs. Boston capped the 13-play, 76-yard march down the field by elevating for a 12-yard touchdown on a lofted throw from Renteria. Whyte's ensuing extra point trimmed the Scots' deficit to six with 12:54 remaining in the game.

Wittenberg tested freshman Dexter Lewis twice in the red zone on its next drive, but the Scots' rookie was more than up to the task both times. First, he broke up a pass intended for Thaddeus Snodgrass that would've went for a touchdown. Then, in déjà vu fashion to the Scots' last home game, Lewis made a spectacular interception in the back corner of the end zone.

Wooster was back in business offensively, thanks in large part to third-down completions of eight and nine yards, respectively, to Boston and senior Cyrus Boardman, the latter of which moved the Scots inside the Tigers' 10-yard line. An unfortunate fumble at the 5-yard line thwarted the Scots' bid at potentially taking the lead with about four minutes remaining.

Defensively, sophomore Beau Greenwood and junior Christian Santos joined in on the highlight reel with major third-down stops on back-to-back defensive three-and-outs, which kept the Scots in the hunt for the upset big. However, Wittenberg ramped up the pressure defensively and Wooster was unable to get in rhythm on either of its two final drives.

In the first half, Wittenberg's Jaheem Washington capped a 5-play, 80-yard drive with a 16-yard run that came 2:12 into the contest, as the Tigers went up quickly 7-0.

Two drives later, Bailey sparked the Scots with a 45-yard run, which moved the ball down to the Tigers' 1-yard line. The Scots went right back to the senior for the 1-yard touchdown run, and Wooster tied the game at seven at the 9:30 mark of the first quarter.

Wooster had success moving the football all afternoon against Wittenberg, and in fact, outgained the Tigers 433-350, but were ultimately done in by pair of first-half turnovers. Terrance Crowe scooped and scored on a 50-yard fumble recovery with 2:50 left in the first quarter to put Wittenberg up for good, and Troy Jones added a 31-yard pick-six with just over three minutes left in the first half. A 23-yard Kennedy-to-Tim Woodrum touchdown pass was sandwiched in between the two defensive scores.

Bailey's career day upped his season total to a career-best 881 yards rushing. For his career, the four-year starter checked out at 2,501 stripes and 26 scores on the ground, with bot totals ranking in the top-10 all-time in program history.

Renteria completed 22-of-41 passes for 211 yards and a score, while Boston led the team in receptions and yards.

Defensively, Santos led the way with 11 tackles, two of which went for loss.

Kennedy completed 21-of-31 passes for 240 yards and a score, while Bryce Bailey hauled in a team-high seven receptions for 90 yards. On the ground, Troy Clay led the charge with six totes for 45 yards.

Crowe's 19 tackles marked the game-high, while Seay added 12 tackles and two sacks, the second of which came on Wooster's final offensive play of the game.