Wittenberg plays first-place DePauw on homecoming

Wittenberg's Bryce Anderson runs against Hiram on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Edwards-Maurer Field in Springfield. David Jablonski/Staff
Caption
Wittenberg's Bryce Anderson runs against Hiram on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Edwards-Maurer Field in Springfield. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Wittenberg is 7-1 against DePauw in NCAC play

The Wittenberg Tigers kept themselves alive in the North Coast Athletic Conference race with a 24-23 victory at Ohio Wesleyan last week.

A second loss would have all killed their chances of at least tying for a conference championship. As it is, they will still to beat the two remaining unbeaten teams, DePauw and Wabash (both 3-0 in the league), and hope to win a tiebreaker or get help to qualify for the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Wabash’s 39-38 victory at Denison last week put Wittenberg in control of its own destiny. Wittenberg lost 21-16 at Denison the previous week, so it needed help from the Little Giants in Granville as it tried to take care of its own business in Delaware. That wasn’t easy.

Wittenberg linebacker Logan Jewsikow recovered a fumble with 2:20 to play to give the offense one last chance. Then quarterback Bobby Froehich, who threw an interception that led to Ohio Wesleyan’s go-ahead score earlier in the fourth quarter, led the winning drive, which was capped off by Brandon Goodwin’s 19-yard field goal with 7 seconds to play.

“It’s huge for us,” Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham said Thursday. “Anytime you can go on the road against a quality opponent — they were 4-0 — that’s a big win for you. I think our guys learned if they keep playing hard, you’ve always got a chance. You’ve got to stick together. It was getting tough on them. After the turnover late, they popped a run on us that got it down there, and quite frankly you’re watching the clock and we were ready to start burning our timeouts trying to get a stop and praying we can hold them to a field goal. They made the mistake and put it on the ground, and we jumped on it and had a great opportunity in front of us. Obviously, we had to go out and make a lot of plays to get the ball down the field but just really proud of our guys.”

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Wittenberg (2-2, 1-1) returns to action at 2 p.m. Saturday against DePauw (3-1 overall) on homecoming at Edwards-Maurer Field.

Wittenberg is 7-1 against DePauw since DePauw joined the NCAC in 2012. The only loss came at DePauw in 2015: 35-30.

DePauw opened the season with a 49-24 loss to Butler and then beat Kenyon 44-0, Wooster 34-30 and Hiram 57-7 in NCAC play.

This will be the first time Wittenberg has played DePauw since Brett Dietz was hired as head coach after the 2019 season. He had served as the offensive coordinator on Bill Lynch’s staff since 2014. Lynch retired after seven seasons at DePauw.

“They’re really well coached,” Fincham said. “They’re still doing a lot of the same things with the same type of success. They create a lot of problems in being able to throw the ball well. They have a lot of quarterback runs and create a lot of headaches for you. Defensively, they’re unique with a three-down front. They play it differently than other other schools play their three-down front. When you’re playing something that’s different, it takes a little while to get your feet on the ground and be able to play and prepare for it.”