Little Giants Roll Past Denison for NCAC Championshipby Howard W. Hewitt • November 5, 2005
A conference championship is just the first joyous reward for Wabash College’s 9-0 Little Giants. A 52-0 dominating win over Denison Saturday afternoon gave Wabash its second NCAC title but the Monon Bell game and a berth in the NCAC Div. III playoffs await. (See game photo album.)
"We have pretty hefty goals and we’re a team that can reach those goals," quarterback Russ Harbaugh said. "The way our offense is playing right now - we’re just in a zone. This feels really good and we’re going to enjoy it but we hope to be playing for six more weeks." (Click here for photos of the post-game celebration.)
Hyperbole and cliches don’t describe the domination the Little Giants showed Saturday. Wabash out-rushed Denison, 282-103, for its biggest running day of the year. Harbaugh was 19-of 20 for 317 yards. That mark was a College record for efficiency. And, the defense recorded its first shutout of the year.
The Little Giants were not happy with their play last week at Allegheny and wanted to make a statement against the 5-4 Big Red. They made it clear quite early the ride back to Ohio would be a quiet one.
Harbaugh connected with Eric Summers for 47 yards on the game’s first play to put the Little Giants in business on the Denison 15. After a 13-yarder to Geoff Walker, Brandon Roop carried the final two yards for the touchdown and the game was not a minute old.
"Russ saw something he liked and checked to it and it was the right call for sure," coach Chris Creighton said. "It was senior to senior on Senior Day and that set the tone."
Harbaugh relished the chance to get Summers in one-on-one coverage that early.
"We saw in last week’s game they came out and played a lot of man and first play of the game they were head up on Summers and there are not too many people who can do that and be successful," Harbaugh said. "So we checked to a fade and he (Summers) is pretty good."
Summers had another huge day with 6 catches, a TD and 120 yards. Geoff Walker almost matched that effort with 91 yards on five catches and two touchdowns.
But for all the statistics and even the conference trophy, playing well in a big game is what had Creighton and the Little Giants excited.
"It’s fun to play well and win," Creighton said. "It’s not like you're greedy but you want both; you want to play well and you want to win and we got that done today."
Harbaugh said his senior teammates set the tone and were ready to claim the outright NCAC title. "From the word go it was ours," he said. "Coming out from that tunnel they had no chance. They were over there waiting - we just came out and took that thing."
After coming close in the season’s first three games, the Little Giant defense got its first shutout of the year. Richard Roomes had 7 tackles in a relief effort to lead the way. Billy King and Tim Parker had four apiece. But the defense was a real team effort with 22 different players recording tackles and 16 of those getting at least one solo.
"Our defense is as good a defense as I’ve ever been a part of," Creighton said. "Our coaches and our players just do a phenomenal job and they played their hearts out today. And today it wasn’t just our starters, there were a lot of other people who played and they kept them out of the end zone."
Perhaps an unsung hero Saturday, a welcome return to form, was sophomore place kicker Chad Finley. After struggling at Allegheny with a broken toe, Finley was 7 for 7 on extra-point kicks and hit a 31-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter to close out the Wabash scoring.
"I broke my toe in a freak accident a week ago Monday," he explained "I slipped coming out of the bathroom and jammed it into the wall and broke it and it had been hurting quite a bit.
"I feel like it helped me concentrate more today. "Last week I was thinking a lot about pain and stuff when I was out there so it was good to get it under my belt today and get some confidence back."
Top left: Harbaugh had another amazingly efficient game.
At right: Summers hauls in a 47 yard pass on the game's first play.
Bottom left: The Little Giants show off their NCAC championship trophy.