WOOSTER, Ohio – Senior Nick Strausbaugh hauled in a four-yard touchdown on a slant route, which gave The College of Wooster the lead with 13:10 remaining, but Denison University answered right back and went on to top the Fighting Scots 38-21 on Black & Gold Weekend in front of the largest home crowd since at least 2004.
Denison (5-1, 4-1 North Coast Athletic Conference) came into the game tops in NCAA Div. III in fumble recoveries with 11, yet it was Wooster (3-3, 2-3 NCAC) doing the recovering in the second quarter. First, the Big Red's Harrison Hartong had a punt go through his hands, and Wooster freshman Justin Jones corralled the pigskin at Denison's three-yard line. Next, Wooster junior Kobe Matesic punched the ball out of the arms of Denison signal-caller Drew Dawkins just past midfield, and senior Christian Santos beat out a host of teammates for the recovery.
In between Denison's fumbles, Wooster scored its first touchdown of the day. Sophomore Troy Baughman took a handoff from classmate Mateo Renteria, started left, cut back to the right, and saw nothing but daylight en route to a three-yard score. Freshman Lake Barrett's extra point upped Wooster's lead to 7-3 with 12:20 to go before halftime.
For the third time this season, Wooster and an opponent headed into the second quarter deadlocked at zero. The Big Red's Pat Kramer quickly changed that and started a fury of second-quarter scoring with a 30-yard field goal on the first play from scrimmage. With 4:27 left in the first half, Denison opened a 10-7 lead, as Hunter Biddle stepped out of a tackle and was off to the races on a 53-yard touchdown reception.
|Wooster freshman Justin Jones moves in for the fumble recovery in the second quarter of Saturday's game.|
Wooster answered back with a six-play, 68-yard drive that culminated with a 30-yard Renteria-to-Strausbaugh scoring strike. Leading up to the touchdown, Renteria took off on a read-option on a third-and-2 play, passed the line of scrimmage, neared the first-down marker, and then lateraled the ball to Baughman, who went on to pick up five more stripes. Two plays later, a 14-yard Strausbaugh reception moved the chains again.
Denison reclaimed the lead at 17-14 with :34 left in the quarter, as Dawkins dove into the end zone to cap a six-play, 63-yard drive, that included a 43-yard Dawkins-to-Peyton Vining reception.
Strausbaugh laid out for a 48-yard reception two plays before his second touchdown of the game, while on the play before that, a scrambling Renteria checked down to freshman Charlie Henegar for 14 stripes on a third-and-10 play.
Denison answered right back – literally – as Biddle eluded Wooster's defense to the tune of a 61-yard touchdown reception on the first offensive play after Strausbaugh's second touchdown. It was all Denison from there, with Alex Minton scoring from one and four yards out down the stretch, and the Big Red chalked up 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Renteria completed 23-of-34 passes for 267 yards and the two scores. Strausbaugh turned in his best outing of the season with nine receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns, and he's now 82 stripes shy of Wooster's career receiving record. Baughman continued his consistency streak with a touchdown in a sixth straight game.
Dawkins, who didn't have an incompletion until the third quarter, finished 13-of-16 for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Minton did the lion's share of the work with 33 carries for 150 stripes and the two touchdowns. Biddle finished with five receptions, 154 yards, and two touchdowns.
Andrew Smith led the Big Red with eight tackles, while Nate Keirn and Chase Struewing had two sacks apiece.
With the win, Denison maintains possession of the "Old Red Lantern" for the sixth straight year, and edged ahead in the all-time series standings 41-40-7.
Noteworthy, Saturday's attendance of 4,603 marked the first time Wooster's had at least 4,500 fans at a home football game since October 10, 2009 when 4,500 fans attended the first night game at John P. Papp Stadium.
Next, Wooster's off to Kenyon College (3-3, 2-3 NCAC) for a noon game on Saturday, October 26.