Wooster Back at Home, Faces Wabash This Week

Grady McHugh
Grady McHugh

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The College of Wooster football team (2-2, 1-2 North Coast Athletic Conference) is back at home this week, and the Fighting Scots will play host to Wabash College (3-1, 3-0 NCAC) on Saturday. Kickoff from the 4,500-seat John P. Papp Stadium is set for 1 p.m. Wooster is looking to get back in the win column after a pair of exciting finishes didn't go the Scots' way. Wooster scored with :32 left in Saturday's 31-26 setback at DePauw University, but the Tigers recovered the onside kick to seal the deal. Wabash, the coaches' pick to win the NCAC this year, has lived up to that billing thus far. The Little Giants are 3-0 in league play, and most recently topped Ohio Wesleyan University, which was the last unbeaten team in the conference, 31-13. Please note Wooster's marching band will not be at Saturday's game due to fall break.

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: Wabash leads the all-time series, which dates back to 1944, 21-2, and the Little Giants have won 14 straight. Wabash, 10-1 all-time at Wooster, won 33-28 in the last meeting at John P. Papp Stadium. Wooster's two wins in the series came during the 2003-04 seasons. In both wins, the Scots returned an interception for a touchdown - a 68-yarder by Nick Hajjar in 2003 and a 20-yard one by Chris Craig in 2004.

Last Meeting: Wooster was within one of Wabash with 9:43 to go in the opening half, but the Little Giants responded with 27 unanswered points en route to a 48-20 win on September 29, 2018. Wooster had success extending drives throughout the day, as the Scots were 10-for-15 on third down against a Wabash team that had been holding the opposition to a meager 32.7 conversion percentage on the year. 

Then-freshman Mateo Renteria (Houston, Texas/Cypress Creek) connected with then-junior Nick Strausbaugh (Fredericksburg, Ohio/Waynedale) on a pair of first-half scores. Strausbaugh hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass with 1:50 left in the first quarter, and then logged a 30-yard touchdown reception with 9:43 to go in the first half. 

Isaac Avant recorded 131 yards rushing on 20 carries, and the Little Giants went for 300 stripes on the ground in the win.

Offense Notes: Sophomore Cole Hissong (Shreve, Ohio/Triway) is coming off a career afternoon. Hissong caught a 75-yard touchdown pass on the game's first offensive play, and his singular determination to get over the goal line in the final minute on his 24-yard touchdown reception, gave Wooster a chance, but DePauw ultimately recovered the onside kick. Hissong's 194 receiving yards at DePauw are the sixth-most in program history, and the top mark by a tight end. Wooster's among the national leaders in third-down conversions, as the Scots are 33-for-69 on the year. The Scots' 47.8 percent conversion rate is the 34th-highest in Div. III entering the week. Renteria is averaging 294.3 yards of total offense per game, and that leads the NCAC and is No. 25 within the division.

Defense Notes: Wooster's opponents have been inside the red zone 10 times in four games, but they've come up empty in the scoring column on six of those drives. The Scots enter the week ranked seventh nationally in red-zone defense. Senior D'Andre Brown (Atlanta, Ga./Benjamin E. Mays) recorded his first collegiate interception on Saturday. Classmate Christian Santos (Yeadon, Pa./Penn Wood Senior) hit DePauw's signal-caller as he was releasing a pass, and the ball went right to Brown's waiting hands. Junior Kea'Shaun Phillips (Toledo, Ohio/Toledo Central Catholic) continues to lead the Scots in tackles with 30, while sophomore Angelo Petracci (Youngstown, Ohio/Canfield) has moved into the top five with 18. Petracci's really stepped up of late with eight tackles at Wittenberg University, and two of his four stops at DePauw came on the Tigers' second-to-last drive of the game, a drive that set the wheels in motion for the Scots' comeback bid.

Special Teams Notes: Freshman Matt Ulishney (Greensburg, Pa./Serra District Catholic) recorded a 42-yard kickoff return at DePauw, giving him a second run back of at least 40 yards this season. Freshman Lake Barrett's 42-yard field goal at DePauw was the longest by a Scot since alumnus Trevor Bowden drilled a 43-yarder at Wabash in 2016. Sophomore Dylan Carr (Heath, Ohio/Licking Valley) has emerged as one of the team's leaders on special teams, evidenced by a team-high five tackles on kickoff coverage.

This and That: Wooster has three student-athletes on its roster from Indiana - freshman defensive back Brock Eltzroth (Warren/Huntington North), freshman linebacker Zakary Nowatzke (Michigan City/Michigan City), and senior quarterback/punter Grady McHugh (Coatesville/South Putnam). Next week is Black & Gold Weekend. Among this year's W Association Hall of Fame inductees are Matt Mahaffey '00, an All-American punter, a two-time College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-American®, and recipient of a NCAA postgraduate scholarship, and Tim Pettorini, who was the Scots' defensive coordinator for his first 14 years at the College.