Wittenberg football: Last-second field goal lifts Tigers to victory

Wittenberg ends years of frustration and stays undefeated with a win over Wabash.

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. — Wittenberg set an unofficial school record for hugs in the aftermath of its 10-7 victory over Wabash on Saturday, Oct. 17.

That’s what you do when you erase almost a decade of frustration in Little Giant Stadium with one kick. You wrap your arms around the nearest battered, bruised and sweaty teammate, and you hug it out like brothers.

Fifth-year senior Zack Harris participated in his share of bear hugs. His 31-yard field goal with 1 second left gave the still-unbeaten and 22nd-ranked Tigers (6-0, 4-0 North Coast Athletic Conference) their biggest victory in years and their first on the home field of No. 10 Wabash.

The kick came one season after Wabash beat Wittenberg 13-10 in Springfield on a last-second kick of its own. It’s the third time in four seasons the game has come down to a field goal in the final seconds, but this was the first time a Wittenberg kicker got to attempt the final field goal.

“I was just glad I had a shot,” said Harris, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. “I remember standing on the sideline last year when they were kicking. I’ve seen it three times since I’ve been here in five years, and we finally got our chance.”

Defensive tackle Lance Phillips, another fifth-year senior, called it “probably the greatest victory I’ve ever had in football.”

“I think it’s huge for the program,” Phillips said. “We’ve never sung the fight song at Wabash. It’s something we’ve been reminded of quite frequently.”

Wittenberg finished its only previous victory in Crawfordsville in 2000 at a high school in town because of a grub problem beneath the grass at Little Giant Stadium. It had since lost four straight at Wabash.

This time, Wittenberg took a 7-0 lead on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Huffman to Michael Cooper early in the fourth quarter.

In the final minutes, Wabash, playing the whole game without its injured starting quarterback, Matt Hudson, tied the game on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Josh Miracle to Kody Lemond.

A 53-yard kickoff return by Brandyn Brown and a 13-yard reception by Josh McKee on fourth-and-6 from the Wabash 31-yard line put Harris in position to make the kick.

“I was confident. We were all confident,” cornerback Keenan Freeman said. “He’s been booting them through all year. Every day in practice he does that.”

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