Defense carried the Wittenberg Tigers in the first four games. On Saturday, the offense played its best game of the season, and both units played a part in the opening minutes as the Tigers set the tone in a 52-14 victory against Allegheny at Edwards-Maurer Field.
» PHOTOS: Tigers vs. Gators
The Gators (0-5, 0-4) opened the game with a 63-yard kickoff return and started their first drive at the Wittenberg 25-yard line. Then on Allegheny’s first play, Wittenberg defensive back Jordan Burkey intercepted a pass.
Wittenberg’s offense took advantage, marching 72 yards in 11 plays and scoring on a 7-yard run by Jaheem Washington, who gained 22 yards on five carries on the drive.
“It set the tone really big,” Washington said. “We’ve been harping on the offense to score more points. We’re not doing as well as we want to be doing, and we showed what we can do today. We came in locked in, focused. The bye week helped. We watched a lot of film and just analyzed their guys and came out and played.”
Wittenberg (4-1, 4-0) sits alone atop the North Coast Athletic Conference after its fourth straight victory. Wabash (3-2, 3-1) lost 24-10 at Wooster (3-2, 2-2) on Saturday, dropping into a tie for second place with Ohio Wesleyan (4-1, 3-1) and Denison (4-1, 3-1).
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After scoring a total of 31 points in their last two games against Wooster and DePauw, the Tigers needed a good offensive showing and got it. They converted 9 of 14 third downs, produced 520 yards of total offense and did not commit a turnover.
“We’re very relieved with the efficiency we played with on offense,” Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham said. “It’s been coming. We’ve had signs of it, but this was certainly the most complete game we’ve played offensively this year.”
Washington rushed for two touchdowns in the first half as Wittenberg built a 24-7 halftime lead. He finished with 79 yards on 16 carries. He’s averaging 76.8 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry at the halfway point of the regular season.
“Jaheem is having a very good season,” Fincham said.
Freshman Bryce Anderson, making his first career appearance, added 74 yards on 16 attempts. DeShawn Sarley gained 68 yards on eight carries with a touchdown and caught four passes for 48 yards.
» EARLIER COVERAGE: Witt moving the ball but struggling to score
Bobby Froehlich completed 19 of 27 passes for 231 yards with one touchdown, a 30-yard pass to freshman Kalyn Purter in the second quarter. It was the first career touchdown catch for Purter. Sam Kayser caught four passes for 76 yards.
Wittenberg plays its two toughest games of the season in the next two weeks. It plays at Wabash at 1 p.m. Oct. 19 and plays host to Denison on homecoming at 1 p.m. Oct. 26. Wittenberg, Wabash and Denison tied for the NCAC championship last season.
“We went into this after the bye week thinking we were in a three-game tournament, and this was the first one,” Fincham said. “The next one’s going to be a big one, and then Denison, they’re really good, too.”
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