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Wittenberg routs OWU to set up first-place showdown with Wabash

Wittenberg senior quarterback Reed Florence had two Casey Donaldson jerseys when he was little: No. 30 Southeastern High School uniforms for football and basketball. Florence was in elementary school when Donaldson was running wild for the Trojans and later the Tigers.

“He was one of my idols growing up,” Florence said.

Today the two former Trojans share special territory in the Wittenberg record book. Florence threw three touchdown passes in a 55-17 victory over Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday at Edwards-Maurer Field to become Wittenberg’s all-time leader with 62. Donaldson has been Wittenberg’s career leader in touchdown runs (67) since his career ended in 2000.

“It’s a credit to my receivers and offensive linemen going down and making plays,” Florence said. “Every one of (the receivers) had yards after their catch, and the offensive line did a heck of a job keeping me clean once again.”

Florence completed 23-of-29 passes for 357 yards. He passed College Football Hall of Famer Charlie Green for career touchdown passes in just two seasons as a starter.

Brendon Cunningham caught six passes for 158 yards and dragged a trio of defenders into the end zone to score Wittenberg’s first touchdown. Sean Gary led the rushing attack with 129 yards on 22 carries with one score.

The defense did its part as well, pitching a second-half shutout. Linebacker Evan Killilea had 13 tackles and 2½ sacks.

After the game, the Tigers hoisted Ye Olde Skull Trophy, one of the strangest rivalry trophies in college football. It’s not a real skull — at least not anymore — but it’s just as disturbing. Of course, Wittenberg players are used to seeing it in the coaches’ offices. Wittenberg has five straight victories over the Battling Bishops, a rival since 1895.

The teams tied for the North Coast Athletic Conference title last season in part because they didn’t meet.

“They were definitely talking a little bit about their championship,” offensive lineman Matt Widemon said, “but championships come through Springfield.”

This year the championship also goes through Crawfordsville, Ind. The 17th-ranked Tigers (8-1, 7-0) play No. 14 Wabash (8-0, 7-0) on the road next week. With the Tigers playing winless Allegheny at home in Week 10, there’s little doubt the game against Wabash is for the NCAC championship.

“It’ll be a great game,” Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham said. “I certainly hope it will be. The winner of the thing will really sew up the automatic qualifier.”

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