A sack by freshman linebacker Tyre Smith clinched a 28-27 victory for the Wittenberg Tigers at the University of Dubuque in Iowa in the 2023 season opener Saturday.
Dubuque trailed by one point and faced 4th-and-1 at the Wittenberg 27-yard line with under two minutes to play when Smith rushed quarterback Ben Gultig and sacked him for a loss of 11 yards.
Wittenberg then ran out the clock for its first season-opening victory since 2018. The Tigers overcame a 27-14 second-half deficit with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to start 1-0 in the second season for coach Jim Collins.
Junior quarterback Max Milton led the Tigers to the victory in his first start. He completed 26 of 38 passes for 275 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His top target was Dean Tate, a fifth-year senior who caught 13 passes for 186 yards.
Wittenberg took a 28-27 lead with 2:57 left in the fourth quarter when Milton threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Anderson on 4th-and-3. That capped a 10-play, 51-yard drive.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, Anderson ran one yard for a score with 10:52 to play, cutting Dubuque’s lead to 27-21.
Wittenberg trailed 21-7 when Tyler May returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown with 8:19 left in the third.
In the first half, a 1-yard touchdown run by Garrett Gross early in the second quarter got Wittenberg on the board after Dubuque took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Anderson rushed 13 times for 66 yards. Gross gained 48 yards on 13 carries.
Wittenberg’s defense got stops on Dubuque’s last four drives. Safety Anthony Pedro led the defense with 11 tackles.