No. 20 Alma hands Wittenberg first loss in convincing fashion

Max Milton throws four touchdown passes and three interceptions for Tigers

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Alma College looked every bit as good as the No. 20 team in the country, if not better, in routing Wittenberg 48-28 on Saturday at Edwards-Maurer Field.

Alma ran off the field at halftime and up the steps to The Steemer with an extra pep in its step as if it had won the game, and in reality, it did clinch the victory in the first half. The Scots took advantage of three Wittenberg interceptions to build a 34-7 lead.

“We didn’t play our best game,” Wittenberg coach Jim Collins said. “They beat us in all three phases. We didn’t execute the way we wanted to execute, the way we needed to execute. We turned the ball over. But they’re a good football team. Give them credit. They played well. We didn’t play at the same level they played.”

Alma (4-0) won its 14th straight regular season game. It was 10-0 in the regular season last year before losing 48-26 to Aurora in the second round of the playoffs,

Wittenberg (2-1) fell to 5-3 in the series against Alma with its most lopsided regular-season loss since a 41-12 defeat at Wabash in 2015 and its worst loss at home since a 35-7 loss to Frostburg State in the first round of the playoffs in 2017. This was the first meeting between the two programs since 2007.

Alma quarterback Carter St. John completed 22 of 25 passes for 323 yards and threw four touchdown passes and one interception. He has 14 touchdown passes in four games.

St. John ran a no-huddle offense that has generated 27 touchdowns in four games. Alma was averaging 60 points entering the game and is now averaging 57 points.

“We practiced that pace all week,” Collins said. “That pace in the game is a little bit different, especially with the way they were executing. We tried to simulate it in practice, and I thought did a decent job of it, but I don’t know if we got to that speed.”

Wittenberg quarterback Max Milton also threw four touchdown passes but was intercepted three times — all in the first half. He completed 25 of 37 passes for 238 yards.

Wittenberg’s first drive ended when Milton threw an interception on the fourth play. Alma needed seven plays to drive 49 yards and scored on a seven-yard pass from St. John to Zach Poff.

Wittenberg’s Brandon Goodwin missed a 30-yard field-goal attempt on the team’s second possession. Alma answered with a 13-yard touchdown run by St. John.

Alma extended the lead to 17-0 before Wittenberg got on the board in the second quarter with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Milton to Troy Teepe.

Wittenberg trailed 24-7 when it faced a decision: kick a field goal or try to convert on 4th-and-7 from the Alma 16-yard line. Collins elected to go for it, and Milton threw an incompletion.

On the second play of the next drive, St. John threw a 64-yard touchdown to Devon Frenchko.

Alma scored the first touchdown of the second half to build a 41-7 lead. Milton threw two touchdown passes to Milik Bowe and a second touchdown pass to Teepe in the last quarter and a half.

Wittenberg returns to North Coast Athletic Conference play in its fourth game. It plays Denison (3-1, 2-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Granville. Denison beat Hiram 55-24 on Saturday, one week after routing Oberlin 70-0 in its NCAC opener.

“When you put down your goals on paper at the beginning of the year, winning the North Coast Athletic Conference is one of those goals,” Collins said, “and it’s the top goal, to be honest with you, so this game today had no bearing on that — unless we let it. We’ve got a tough one next week on the road. No doubt, we’re going to have to play better than we played today. That’s the goal. Get better every week.”

About the Author