|by Howard Hewitt • October 14, 2006|
Springfield, Ohio – A wild fourth-quarter and a missed Little Giant 28-yard field as time expired gave Wittenberg a 19-17 NCAC win here Saturday afternoon.
The hard-fought battle was largely controlled by Wabash in the first half, but missed opportunities prevented the Little Giants from building any more than a 10-0 lead. (View the photo album from the game.)
The Tigers took their first lead of the game in the third quarter after a field goal got them on the board. Tony Hall scored on a two yard run to tie the game, 10-10. Then Witt scored early in the fourth period with a Mark Porter 20-yard field goal, 13-10, with 7:26 to play.
But Wabash wasted little time recapturing the lead. Dustin Huff hit Mike Russell for 18 yards, ran for 21 and then threw for Russell again near the end zone resulting in a Tiger pass interference call. Shane Keffer rushed for two yards to put Wabash back on top, 17-13.
Then things started to get a little crazy, including one of the more controversial calls to go against the Little Giants this season.
Tristan Murray, who finished with 156 yards on 35 carries, put the Tigers on his back. But with the ball at the Wabash 44 and facing a crucial fourth-and-one, the Little Giant defense appeared to stop the conversion. The ball also popped loose but there was confusion on the field. One official ruled there was an inadvertent whistle which gave Wittenberg a second chance at the fourth-and-one which it converted.
Wabash Coach Chris Creighton had little comment on the game-changing play. He shook his head when asked after the game and just repeated a couple of times, "an inadvertent whistle."
Wittenberg then took the lead for good seven plays later on Andy Vanover’s 13-yard TD run. But the kick failed and the Little Giants had life for a field goal attempt.
Huff connected on two straight passes to Russell. But with 11 seconds left the ball was on the 29. Huff then found Russell over the middle for 18 yards to set up the field goal try.
Chad Finley’s field goal effort was wide right as the clock expired.
"You've got two proud, talented football programs going after each other," Creighton said. "They're just playing hard. For us it is a major bummer that we lost. It's a great win for them. It could have been a great win for us and a bummer for them.
"You've just got two really good football programs in a classic battle."
Russell had another monster day with 149 yards on 8 catches. Huff threw for 235 yards on 21-31 tries but had two interceptions. Both interceptions were batted into the air inside the Witt 20-yard line and then picked off.
Huff opened the scoring on the game’s first drive, capping it with a 27 yard scamper to get the Little Giants on the board.
But rushing was one of the big differences in the contest. The Tigers rushed 54 times for 222 yards to Wabash’s 89 yards. Wabash had 235 through the air to Witt’s 132.
Matt Kraft had 11 tackles to lead the Wabash defense with Andy Deig credited for nine and Adi Pynenberg notching eight.
Wabash travels to Oberlin Saturday.
Photo - Frank Knez returns one of three interceptions by the Little Giants.