Wittenberg tries to get back on track against unbeaten Ohio Wesleyan

Wittenberg's Joe Fincham coaches during a game against SUNY Cortland on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, at Edwards-Maurer Field in Springfield. David Jablonski/Staff
Caption
Wittenberg's Joe Fincham coaches during a game against SUNY Cortland on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, at Edwards-Maurer Field in Springfield. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Tigers follow loss at Denison with road game in Delaware

The Wittenberg Tigers led 16-7 and had scored on three of their first four possessions when Denison sacked quarterback Collin Brown on back-to-back plays midway through the second quarter last weekend in Granville.

Brown got up slowly, cradling his arm or shoulder, after the first sack but stayed in the game. He did not return after the second sack, which forced Wittenberg to punt from its own 7-yard line.

It was the second time in three games the sophomore Brown, a first-year starter, had left the game with injury, and Wittenberg lost both games: 38-16 to SUNY Cortland and 21-16 to Denison.

“It’s unfortunate, but at the time, too, that’s part of football,” Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham said. “That’s harsh, but it’s a physical game and those things happen. It’s not fun when it happens to us, but we’re fortunate, too, that Bobby Froehlich’s played a lot of football. When he goes in, there’s no reason we should go from scoring 16 points in the first quarter to scoring zero points in the next three.”

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Wittenberg moved the ball into Denison territory on all four drives led by Froehlich. The first possession, in the second quarter, stalled at the Denison 43-yard line. Wittenberg had the ball only once in the third quarter. That drive ended at the Denison 40.

Drives in the fourth quarter ended at the 23 and the 22, though the last drive reached the 10 before Denison tackled Wittenberg’s Sam Kayser for a 12-yard loss. That forced Wittenberg to go for it on 4th-and-14.

An incompletion ended that drive in the final minutes, and Denison ran out the clock on its second victory in a row against the Tigers.

Brown completed 5 of 6 passes for 122 yards with two touchdowns. Froehlich completed 8 of 14 passes for 127 yards.

“Offensively, we moved the ball throughout the ballgame,” Fincham said. “It wasn’t like we were going out and having a bunch of three and four and outs. We just didn’t finish drives. When you look at our team in general, we weren’t any different defensively. We didn’t finish. When crucial third downs or fourth downs came about, we just didn’t make the plays that you have to make to win contested football games. Until you can do those sorts of things consistently, you’re going to be inconsistent, and that’s kind of what we are.”

Fincham said he doesn’t know if Brown will play this week. Wittenberg (1-2, 1-1) plays Ohio Wesleyan (4-0, 3-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Selby Stadium in Delaware.

“The injury he’s got is more of a day-to-day thing,” Fincham said. “We’re at this point where we’re trying to get him on the field for good, so it’s not in and out. That just doesn’t give any continuity to your offense for your team.”

Wittenberg and Ohio Wesleyan will meet for the 95th time. The Tigers lead the series 53-35-6 and have won the last 12 meetings, the last 11 by double digits. The last time Wittenberg lost was in 2006: 17-10 in Delaware.

Ohio Wesleyan opened the season with a 32-28 victory at Otterbein and has since beaten Oberlin, Wooster and Allegheny in North Coast Athletic Conference play by a 121-32 margin.

Trey Dixon and T.J. Weems lead an Ohio Wesleyan rushing attack that averages 177.5 yards per game.

“They’re a good football team,” Fincham said. “Their two running backs are as good as any we’ve seen. The big back at Denison is a different type of back. He’s a downhill guy. The two were going to see on Saturday, they can get around pretty quick. They have good vision.”