Strong Rush Attack Halts Crusaders’ Winning Streak

Strong Rush Attack Halts Crusaders’ Winning Streak
NEW CONCORD, Ohio – The Capital Crusaders football team suffered its first defeat of the season at the hands of Muskingum University on Saturday night at McConagha Stadium. The Fighting Muskies rattled off over 400 yards of rushing offense and had four different runners put one in the endzone, helping deliver a 36-20 loss to the Crusaders.

The first half of play displayed an even matchup with the score going into the locker room 16-10 in favor of the hosts. Sophomore Brent Walton (Pickerington, Ohio/Central) accounted for both of Capital's touchdowns in the first half, one through the air and one on the ground.

After Muskingum place kicker Cody Dent hit a 42-yard field goal attempt, the Crusaders responded on the next drive. Facing a third down and 13 yards to go, freshman quarterback Nick Iske (Hilliard, Ohio/Davidson) hit Walton in the middle of the Musky defense before he turned it upfield for a 73-yard scoring play. The point after attempt was no good, leading to a 6-3 Capital lead.

Muskingum (1-2, 1-1 OAC) responded by moving the ball downfield with a steady dose of rushes. Of the 13 plays they ran on their next drive, only one went for a pass. Quarterback Cody Williams capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run up the middle to give the Muskies the lead back.

Both teams swapped possessions until Capital scored one again toward the end of the second quarter. Capital's defense forced a turnover when Williams fumbled the ball and was recovered by TJ Langermeirer (West Jefferson, Ohio). On the very next play from scrimmage on Muskingum's 12-yard line, Walton broke off a run to the left side of the line and trotted on into the endzone.

The lead swapped hands one more time before the half when Marvin Morris went for a 24-yard rushing touchdown, leaving just 35 seconds on the clock. With the score 16-10, Capital attempted to score one more time and had a chance, but Iske's pass to the corner of the endzone was picked off by Dorian Maynard as he and Zak Wirick went up for the heave.

Muskingum came out of the locker room with another healthy dose of running plays and stormed all the way down the field to open the half with a touchdown. Dominic Bell capped off the nine-play, 64-yard drive with a 33-yard touchdown scamper to drive the lead to 10 points, 23-13.

Adding to the deficit, a third Muskies runner scored a touchdown on their next possession. Desmond Waden broke free up the middle and carted the football 60 yards for another six points.

Iske got into a groove on the Crusaders' ensuing drive, rushing for 43 yards on six carries to set the table for his second touchdown pass of the game. From nine yards out, Skelton ran an out route to the far sideline and out of his break separated from his defender to make room for the touchdown haul. With Keegan Irwin's point after attempt, the Crusaders trailed just 10 points once again.

On their next drive, Iske led the Crusaders down the field in an attempt to make it a one-score game. After making their way down to the Muskingum 20-yard line, the Crusaders faced fourth and three to keep the drive alive. The Muskies brought the house on defense and despite Iske evading two tacklers, the third Muskies defender finally brought him down in the backfield to force a turnover on downs.

Muskingum rallied for one more rushing touchdown, this time by Melvin Smith from 12 yards out, to add the score that put the game out of reach.

Muskingum rushed for over 400 yards between five different runners, four of which found the endzone. Smith led the Muskies with 25 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown.

Iske led Capital's rush attack with 83 yards on 23 carries. He put the ball in the air 20 times, completing seven passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Walton had 126 of those receiving yards with four different receivers hauling in one catch apiece.

Collectively, Walton had 178 all-purpose yards to lead both teams.

On the defensive side, Joe Rodriguez (Miami Springs, Fla.) led the Crusaders with 12 tackles, seven of them solo stops. Trevor Parker (Hilliard, Ohio/Darby) made five tackles, two of which were behind the line of scrimmage.

Muskingum's Barry Parks recorded two-and-one-half of Muskingum's four total sacks on the day. Chaney Fulton led both sides with 13 tackles.

The loss snaps Capital's four-game winning streak, dating back to last season. It served as the team's longest such streak since the 2009 season.

Capital (2-1, 1-1 OAC) will prepare for one of its most challenging tests of the season when nationally-ranked Mount Union comes into Bernlohr Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 4 for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff.