- David Jablonski Staff Writer
The Wittenberg Tigers didn't rush off the field in jubilation after routing Ohio Wesleyan 42-23 Saturday at Edwards-Maurer Field. This wasn't a T-shirt game.
That will come next week when the Tigers play Wooster in the regular-season finale at home. Should they win, they will don championship T-shirts, as they have done in four of the last five seasons.
No. 12 Wittenberg (9-0, 8-0) did capture a share of its 13th North Coast Athletic Conference championship in coach Joe Fincham’s 22 seasons and did secure a Division III playoff berth, but the prospects of a 10-0 season and an outright championship are bigger goals.
"It was an ugly win, but we got it done," Wittenberg linebacker Terrance Crowe said. "We've got some things we've got to clean up defensively obviously heading into this next week and into the playoffs, but after a good week of practice, we'll be fine."
Fincham reached a rare milestone, recording his 200th career victory. His career mark stands at 200-43. He’s the 44th coach in college football history to win 200 games with one school, joining the likes of Ohio State’s Woody Hayes and Alabama’s Bear Bryant.
Wittenberg honored Fincham on the field after the game with a football stamped with the No. 200 and the date and score. All of his players stood in front of him. His family stood beside him.
"It's always nice to be able to celebrate it with your family," Fincham said. "Sometimes as a coach, people don't realize how much your family has to sacrifice. I felt a little uncomfortable with all the people (watching). That's not really my gig. But hopefully our current players, as well as our former players who were here, got a chance to enjoy it because that's what it's all about."
Fincham would have enjoyed his 200th win much more if the Tigers had played as well in the final 44 minutes as they did in the first 16.
Quarterback Jake Kennedy set the tone with a 45-yard touchdown run on Wittenberg’s first play. He threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Nick Kendall to make it 14-0. Backup quarterback Ryan Fallon added two touchdown runs as the Tigers built a 28-0 lead in the first 16 minutes.
The Battling Bishops made the score more respectable with three touchdowns in the last 19 minutes.
"We definitely could have played a lot better and a lot smarter," running back DeShawn Sarley said, "but we're happy for coach. Whenever you get a W, it's a good thing."