Wabash Rallies For Overtime Win

by Brent Harris

September 3, 2016

A one-yard touchdown run by Tyler Downing in overtime provided the game-winning score in Wabash’s 41-34 comeback victory at Albion Saturday night.

The 14th-ranked Little Giants needed an 8-yard touchdown pass from Connor Rice to Oliver Page with 12 seconds left in regulation to force the extra period. Albion (0-1) scored 31 points in the second half to erase a Wabash 17-point lead at halftime.

Wabash raced out to a 20-3 advantage in the first two quarters on touchdowns by Matt Penola and Downing along with a pair of field goals from Andrew Tutsie. The Little Giants’ defense held Albion to 27 yards passing and minus-13 rushing yards.

The Britons came out of the locker room at halftime firing away on their opening drive. Quarterback Chad Hamilton capped an 86-yard drive with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Collin Poore to begin the scoring. Five minutes later Poore found the end zone once again when a Hamilton pass was fumbled by receiver Connor Carbary. The ball bounced into the hands of Poore, who raced to the goal line to cut the Wabash lead to 20-17.

Downing scored one of his three touchdowns for the game on the ensuing drive. He raced 58 yards on the third play from scrimmage to push the Little Giants’ lead back to 10 points. Downing finished the game with 116 yards on 16 carries.

“I saw a whole lot of green field with white jerseys out in front,” Downing said of his 58-yard rush. “I was never touched the entire run. I score that touchdown ten times out of ten tries because of the holes the rest of the team opened for me. I did not see this coming at all. I give all the credit to the offensive line. They provide the push. Everything I do is because of them. Wabash Always Fights --- it was not looking good late in the game. The collective sum of our entire team came together and that’s how we won.”

“Tyler Downing is a really good football player,” Wabash head coach Don Morel said. “He has waited his turn at Wabash to show what he can do. Clearly he’s an outstanding player.”

The Britons took advantage of Wabash miscues to score their final two touchdowns. Albion blocked a punt in the closing minute of the third quarter that Kyle Winchell scooped up the ball and returned it 15 yards to draw his team back to within three points.

Josh Padelt gave Albion its first lead of the game with a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown. A 37-yard field goal by Andrew Fabry made it a 34-27 game with six minutes remaining in regulation.

Wabash started its final drive of regulation with 3:38 left in the fourth. A 17-yard pass from Rice to Page kept the eventual 13-play, 67-yard drive alive. The Little Giants moved the ball to the Albion 8-yard line with less than 30 seconds remaining. Rice lofted a fourth-down pass toward the back corner of the end zone where Page hauled it in with a leaping catch. Andrew Tutsie’s extra point led to the overtime heroics by Downing.

The Wabash defense did its part in overtime. Brient Hicks threw Albion running back Sam Hunter a 10-yard loss on the first play for the Britons’ offense. Albion connected on an 18-yard pass on second down, but a pass breakup on third down by Brian Parks and a fourth-down attempt that came up short of the receiver ended the threat, providing Wabash the victory.

“This just speaks to the resiliency of the kids,” Morel said. “In the second half we were absolutely depleted on defense. It did not look good, but the guys hung in there. They needed to get stops multiple times, and somehow they did. It was an amazing effort and a tribute to the kids of Wabash College.”

Wabash rushed for 255 yards, with Penola adding 88 yards on 16 carries with one touchdown on the opening series of the game. Shamir Johnson ran for 40 yards on nine attempts in the opening series before a shoulder injury sidelined him the rest of the game. Rice threw for 129 yards, completing 18 of 36 passes. Page led the Wabash receivers with seven catches for 65 yards.

Connor Ludwig paced the Little Giants on defense with 10 tackles. Delon Pettiford finished with nine and two pass breakups. Byshup Rhodes recorded two of Wabash’s three sacks. The Little Giants also produced 11 tackles for losses, three from Ethan Buresh.

Hamiton accounted for 282 yards through the air for Albion.

Wabash (1-0) returns to action in two weeks. The Little Giants open the home portion of the season September 17 at 1 p.m. against North Coast Athletic Conference foe Allegheny College.




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