North Coast Athletic Conference play kicks off this week for The College of Wooster football team (1-0, 0-0 NCAC), as Oberlin College (0-1, 0-0 NCAC) visits John P. Papp Stadium for a 1 p.m. game on Saturday, September 14. This is the first time since 2014 where Wooster doesn't open NCAC play against Allegheny College. Wooster opened conference play against Oberlin in 2013 and 2014, winning both contests by 39-21 and 63-10 scores, respectively.
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 catch the replay with first airings scheduled for Ch. 22 (SD) at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Ch. 621 (HD) at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Fans are encouraged to check local listings for additional replay times. WKVX 960 AM will carry this week's contest live and online at https://wqkt.com.
All-Time Series: Wooster leads the all-time series 70-23-2, and the Scots have won more games against the Yeomen than any other program. In fact, Oberlin is one of two schools Wooster's won at least 50 games against. Kenyon College is the other, with Wooster holding a 53-23-3 all-time record in that series. Wooster and Oberlin first met back in 1903, a game won 30-0 by the Yeomen. Wooster's been in near-cruise control since 1986, with the Scots winning 27 of the last 29 meetings. However, the outcome has tightened considerably of late, with Wooster winning the last three games by a combined 20 points.
Last Meeting: Alumnus Antonio Bailey scored from five yards out with :06 remaining to break a 21-21 tie and lift Wooster to an exciting 27-21 win at Oberlin on October 13, 2018. Wooster appeared poised to start in good field position for its game-winning drive, as Oberlin was forced to punt the ball away with under three minutes remaining from its own 12-yard line, and the Yeomen averaged 31 yards per boot up to that point. Christian Arnold benefitted from a friendly roll on a 60-yard punt, and Wooster had its work cut out after taking over on its own 28-yard line with 2:40 left and one timeout.
Wooster caught a break on its game-winning drive with an automatic first down on an 11-yard pass interference penalty on what otherwise would've stood as an incomplete third-down pass. Later in the drive, Bailey weaved through the first line of defense for a 15-yard gain on a third-and-2 play that moved the ball to Oberlin's 5-yard line, and two plays later, the senior was in the end zone.
Bailey's touchdown marked the Scots' first game-winning score in the final 10 seconds since Shaun Swearingen caught a 43-yard touchdown from Bobby Reiff on a Hail Mary pass as time expired during a 27-21 win over Allegheny on Oct. 21, 2006.
Offense Notes: While it took a couple of quarters for Wooster's offense to settle in during the season-opener, there was no stopping the Scots come the team's second drive of the third quarter. Wooster went on to score points on five straight possessions, starting with senior Nick Strausbaugh's (Fredericksburg, Ohio/Waynedale) 30-yard touchdown reception, that was the 26th of his career. The Scots' No. 1 wideout turned eight receptions into 134 yards, and he's now had 13 100-yard games in just 21 career games. Strausbaugh surpassed Chris Cabot (1998-01) for second on Wooster's career receiving yards list during last Saturday's win, and his 2,421 yards trails Brandon Good's (1995-98) 2,838. Sophomore Troy Baughman (McKinney, Texas/Independence) had his first extended stint as the Scots' feature back and responded with 114 yards on 28 carries. Baughman capped Saturday's scoring with a 1-yard touchdown with 2:19 remaining in the game.
Defense Notes: Wooster's six points allowed were tied for the 16th-fewest in Div. III for week one, while it was just the fourth time in the Frank Colaprete era that the Scots have held an opponent below 10 points in a game. The Scots' defense has taken big strides of late, as Saturday marked the third time in the last nine games a Wooster opponent has been held to single digits in the scoring column. Wooster held Bluffton to 288 yards of offense, and it was just the seventh time a Colaprete-coached team has held an opponent south of 300. While Wooster only had one sack in its season-opener, the Scots ability to generate pressure - against both the run and pass - was evident on the stat sheet. Seniors K.C. Okoronkwo (Alexandria, Va./Western Alamance (N.C.) and Christian Santos (Yeadon, Pa./Penn Wood Senior) had 1.5 tackles for loss each, and Wooster had seven as a team. The Scots also had eight quarterback hurries in the season-opener, with two each coming from senior D'Andre Brown (Atlanta, Ga./Benjamin E. Mays), Okoronkwo, and Santos.
Special Teams Notes: Freshman Lake Barrett (Columbia, S.C./Hammond School) was perfect in his debut as the Scots' place-kicker. The rookie knocked through a 26-yard field goal in the third quarter and was 4-for-4 on extra-point tries. Classmate Matt Pardi (Arlington, Va./Washington-Lee) averaged 35.8 yards over four punts in his Wooster debut.
This and That: Wooster won five straight NCAC openers before Allegheny snapped that streak with a 27-20 win last year. A Wooster win bumps the Scots' September record under Colaprete back to .500. Wooster last allowed six or fewer points in a season-opener in 2008, when the Scots rolled past Waynesburg University 27-6. Last week was the first Wooster football game that was scoreless at the half in the 2000s.