Capital Looks to Regroup at Heidelberg
The Capital University football team will face its second straight ranked opponent Saturday when it travels to No. 12 Heidelberg for a 1:30 p.m. Ohio Athletic Conference contest at Mayer Field in Tiffin, Ohio.
The Crusaders (1-3 overall, 1-2 OAC) enter Saturday's game following a 54-0 defeat at then-No. 24 John Carroll last Saturday. Capital has lost two straight since a 42-13 triumph at Marietta on Sept. 15.
The Student Princes (4-0, 3-0) moved up one spot in the D3football.com Top 25 following a 68-17 victory at Marietta.
Heidelberg owns a narrow 35-31-1 advantage in the all-time series against Capital. After the Crusaders defeated the Student Princes in a memorable 60-50 affair at Bernlohr Stadium in 2010, the 'Berg has won the last two games by a combined score of 100-13.
Last Saturday against the Blue Streaks, Capital was unable to find a rhythm in any phase of the game, and trailed 37-0 after one half of play. The Crusaders compiled 185 total yards and completed one pass while surrendering 449 yards defensively.
After an interception by junior defensive back Anthony Cicione (Akron, Ohio) stopped John Carroll's opening drive, Capital went three and out and junior punter Joey Riley (Twinsburg, Ohio) was tackled in the end zone for a safety. The Blue Streaks scored on the first play of their ensuing drive and didn't look back.
"Obviously it was a tough loss for us," Capital coach Craig Candeto said. "We lost control of the game pretty early, and the wheels kind of came off.
"I think we're going to learn a lot from it. We're still growing as a program. You hate to take lumps like this, but there's definitely some good that can come out of it."
Freshman quarterback Chase Longwell (Hilliard, Ohio) totaled 79 yards on 14 carries to lead the offense. Sophomore b-back Bo Hardy (Galloway, Ohio) added 19 carries for 59 yards and a reception for 12 yards.
Heidelberg, a 2012 NCAA Division III Playoffs qualifier, currently leads the OAC in rushing offense (256.5 yards per game) and total offense (564.0 yards per game), and is the nation's top scoring offense at over 60 points per contest.
Quarterback Michael Mees, who is in his third season as the starting quarterback for the Student Princes, leads the nation in passing efficiency and has completed better than 70 percent of his passes, a mark that leads the league. Running back Cartel Brooks leads the conference in rushing yards per game (116.3) and rushing touchdowns (7). The receiving corps, led by Donteea Dye (14 rec., 409 yds., 5 TDs), averages better than 20 yards per reception.
Linebacker Will Lance leads the defense with 31 tackles and a pair of sacks.
Heidelberg also possesses two of the conference's top return men. Punt returner Ryan Fischer leads or is tied for the lead in the country in yards per return (28.5) and touchdowns (2). Kick returner Nick DeLisa leads the OAC with a 32.8 yards per return average.
Candeto acknowledged the team's need to avoid opponents' big plays on special teams. On Sept. 28, Ohio Northern recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown. Against John Carroll, Capital allowed a safety on a punt attempt and had a punt partially blocked later in the game.
"Heidelberg is good enough to make their own plays on offense and defense, so if we give them something like a safety or a blocked punt, those are huge momentum changers," Candeto said. "We have to shore up those areas."