For many years, the Wittenberg Tigers made their entrance onto the Edwards-Maurer Field turf in Springfield by walking down the steps on the north side of the stadium. At some point, they switched to running out of an inflatable helmet on the south side.
On Saturday in their 2023 home opener, Wittenberg took a new approach. The players followed second-year coach Jim Collins in a walk across the top of the hill on the north side of the stadium. They walked down the hill in the northeast corner, paused as a group and then ran onto the turf.
“I was part of it, so I didn’t see it, but it had a nice feel to it,” Collins said.
Collins felt even better about the game. Wittenberg routed Kenyon 56-17 in its North Coast Athletic Conference opener.
“We made a couple mistakes early on, but the kids recovered from it,” Collins said. “There was a stretch there where I thought we really did a good job of executing on both sides of the ball. Kids played hard and executed well. The defense did a good job of preventing the big play, and our kids on offense put the ball in the end zone.”
Wittenberg (2-0, 1-0) improved to 24-0 against Kenyon (0-3, 0-1) in NCAC play. It has won the last 23 games by at least 16 points.
Wittenberg plays Alma College (3-0) at noon next Saturday in Springfield. Alma has outscored its first three opponents 180-21.
Against Kenyon, Max Milton threw four touchdown passes in the first half as Wittenberg built a 35-3 halftime lead. He completed 16 of 24 passes for 189 yards in the game.
In his first start, Milton helped rally the Tigers to a 28-27 victory at Dubuque, completing 26 of 38 passes for 275 yards with one touchdown. That game took place two weeks earlier. The Tigers did not play in Week 2.
“I thought we had good practices the whole week leading up to it,” Milton said. “It’s good to come out and get a win. We’ve got to start a little better.”
Wittenberg owned a 7-3 lead midway through the second quarter on the strength of a 28-yard touchdown run by Garrett Gross and then scored four touchdowns in the last seven minutes of the half thanks in part to Kenyon turning the ball over on two straight kickoff returns.
In that stretch, Tyler May and Troy Teepe each had one touchdown reception, and Dean Tate, a fifth-year senior who caught 13 passes for 186 yards in the opener, caught two touchdown passes. His second one, for 47 yards, came with 54 seconds left in the half. He finished with six catches for 98 yards.
“We saw on film how their safeties play,” Tate said. “We knew we could take advantage of it, and on that play, we had a good connection for a touchdown that ended the half a good note.”
Gross led the rushing attack with 112 yards on 10 carries. Bryce Anderson rushed 13 times for 78 yards and scored the first touchdown of the second half.
Mario Getaw led the defense with seven tackles, including 1½ for a loss. Christian Sweet had an interception.