The Capital University football team plays its final road game of the 2013 regular season Saturday when it takes on cross-town rival Otterbein in an Ohio Athletic Conference showdown at Memorial Stadium in Westerville.
The series between the two teams dates back to 1927, with Capital holding a slight 42-40-3 advantage all time. Appropriately, the two teams are 5-5 in their last 10 meetings, with the Crusaders holding a slight scoring edge at 204-193 during that span. The Cardinals defeated Capital 23-9 at Bernlohr Stadium a year ago.
The rivalry game promises to bring out the best in both teams, especially given the recent past. Capital coach Craig Candeto played at Navy and, after being a part of the storied Army-Navy rivalry as a student-athlete, he's no stranger to college football rivalry games.
"It's huge for us, and I know it's huge for them," Capital coach Craig Candeto said. "Any time you can play a rival, you get excited for it. It means a lot to our kids … a lot of them probably played in high school together, and they're just right up the road. It's going to be heated, and guys are going to be excited to play."
On Saturday at Baldwin Wallace, the Crusaders (1-6 overall, 1-5 OAC) controlled the ball for more than 20 minutes in the first half but was unable to continue the momentum into the second half in a 28-12 setback.
Capital committed three turnovers in the affair, including a fumble early in the fourth quarter that ended a drive into Yellow Jackets territory. The Crusaders were held on fourth down later in the fourth at the BW 14-yard line.
"We had some bright spots where we played well at times, but it was a story of missed opportunities," Candeto said. "In my mind, if we make the plays we're supposed to make, it could have been a different ball game at halftime."
Freshman quarterback Chase Longwell (Hilliard, Ohio) posted 43 rushing yards and 96 passing yards to lead the Capital offense. Sophomore slot back Jake Breakey (Pickerington, Ohio) and freshman b-back Brent Walton (Pickerington, Ohio) each rushed for touchdowns in the first half. Senior slot back Alex Coleman (Columbus, Ohio) was the team's leading rusher with 52 yards, while senior Jacob Batcho (Massillon, Ohio) led the receivers with 35 yards on three catches.
Freshman defensive back Dallas Banks (Crestwood, Ky.) recorded 11 tackles to lead the defense. Junior defensive back Anthony Cicione (Akron, Ohio) registered a pair of interceptions in the first half, including one that led to a Capital scoring drive.
Otterbein (3-4, 3-3) lost its second straight contest against a ranked opponent, falling 48-0 at No. 1 Mount Union on Saturday. The Cardinals were outgained 418-37 yards and recorded just one first down against the Purple Raiders, who entered the week ranked first in the nation in total defense.
Quarterback Ben Sizemore leads the Otterbein offense with 1,064 yards through the air and eight touchdowns against just one interception. Running back Drew Ervin leads the Cardinals with 388 rushing yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Steven Carpenter leads the receiving corps with 433 yards and four scores, while Jeremy McCoy is close behind with 295 yards and a touchdown.
Linebacker Austin Jones leads the defense with 69 tackles and is first in the conference in solo tackles per game and second in tackles for loss per game. Eleven other Cardinals have 20 tackles or more, including linebacker Eric Mitchell, who has 50 stops.
Otterbein has shown the ability to take care of the ball, posting one turnover at Mount Union and just six for the season, good for a tie for first in the league in that category. The Cardinals' offense averages 11.1 points per game, which is 10th in the OAC.
"Otterbein is a team that has had some injuries this year on both sides of the ball," Candeto said, "but they're a well-coached football team and a team that's coming off of a big year last year. They play fast and they play hard, and that will be ramped up even more with this being a rivalry game."