The Capital University football team looks to rebound from three consecutive defeats against nationally ranked opponents in the Ohio Athletic Conference this Saturday at Baldwin Wallace in a 1:30 p.m. contest at George Finnie Stadium in Berea, Ohio.
The Crusaders (1-5 overall, 1-4 OAC) were defeated 58-3 at home against No. 1 Mount Union last Saturday. Capital fell at then-No. 24 John Carroll and then-No. 12 Heidelberg in the weeks leading up to its showdown against the Purple Raiders.
The Yellow Jackets (4-2, 3-2) won their second straight affair last Saturday at Wilmington, downing the Quakers 54-7.
While Baldwin Wallace owns a 32-10 advantage in the all-time series against Capital, the Crusaders have won six of the last nine meetings between the two teams. The teams have split the last six games.
Last season, the Yellow Jackets scored 27 unanswered points to start the second half to break open a tight game en route to a 39-16 victory at Bernlohr Stadium. After outgaining Baldwin Wallace 141-132 yards in the first half, Capital totaled just over 100 yards of offense in the second half and surrendered over 300 yards rushing for the contest.
Last Saturday, the Crusaders showed encouraging signs against the defending national champions, forcing a pair of turnovers and blocking a punt, but committed six turnovers and were held to 144 yards of total offense. Mount Union piled up 551 yards of total offense, including 367 on the ground.
"We went through a very difficult stretch there with three very difficult teams, but I'm not as concerned with those teams as I am about our own team and what we're doing," Capital coach Craig Candeto said. "If you turn the ball over six times, you're not going to beat many teams, let alone the No. 1 team in the nation."
Candeto stressed the importance of staying positive with four games remaining on the schedule. He noted the improved play of the special teams, which had struggled in recent contests. Sophomore linebacker Bryant Bokovitz (Gallipolis, Ohio) blocked a punt in the third quarter against the Purple Raiders and junior kicker Travis Bosanac (Strongsville, Ohio) nailed a 36-yard field goal early in the third to put the Crusaders on the board.
Freshman quarterback and leading rusher Chase Longwell (Hilliard, Ohio) led the Capital offense with 54 yards on the ground. Senior defensive back Domenic Hebebrand (Hinckley, Ohio) led the defense with 10 tackles, including seven solo stops.
After allowing a Wilmington touchdown early in the first quarter, Baldwin Wallace scored 54 unanswered points and rushed for 287 yards and six touchdowns in the contest. Josiah Holt finished with nine carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns, while fellow running back Isaac Reed III totaled 76 yards and two scores.
The Yellow Jackets rank in the top five in the league in scoring offense (30.2 ppg), scoring defense (17.3), total offense (358.7 ypg) and total defense (335.0).
Quarterback Michael Slack ranks second on the team in rushing and has thrown for 607 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions. Running back Nolan Sordyl paces Baldwin Wallace with 312 rushing yards and four scores. Wide receiver Kevin Johnson leads the team with 17 receptions for 267 yards and two touchdowns.
Linebacker David Flegal leads the BW defense with 63 tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries. Defensive lineman Luke Riemenschneider has 37 tackles and leads the conference with 5.5 sacks for the year.
"They've gained a lot of momentum in the last few weeks," Candeto said of the Yellow Jackets. "They've looked like a very strong football team and they're getting into midseason form. They've gained a lot of confidence over the last few weeks, which is scary for us."
Baldwin Wallace rushes for nearly 230 yards per game and features four different players with 240 yards or more this season. On the other side of the ball, the Yellow Jackets are holding opponents to just 114.5 rushing yards per game. Capital averages nearly 230 yards on the ground per affair.
"We're going to have to control their defensive front seven and stop their running game on the other side of it," Candeto said.
With games against the conference's top three teams out of the way, Candeto hopes the Crusaders can make a strong run to end the season.
"It is nice to line up against teams not in the top 25, but we can't take a breath," Candeto said. "We're in a position where we can't take anyone for granted. It takes a lot going right to win a football game."