Crusaders Fall Short but Hold Their Own Against #17 Wittenberg

Crusaders Fall Short but Hold Their Own Against #17 Wittenberg

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University football team opened the 2015 season and opened a few eyes after holding its own against nationally-ranked Wittenberg University on Saturday afternoon. After taking a one-score contest into half, Wittenberg opened the third quarter strongly to separate itself enough en route to defeating Capital, 38-27.

Despite allowing 38 points over the course of the game, the defense still showed signed of improvement, especially in the run stop game. Capital limited its standout running back, Jimmy Dehnke, to just 89 yards on 21 carries. Junior defensive end Tyler Conner (Grove City, Ohio) caused Dehnke to fumble inside the red zone in the second quarter to stop what was headed toward a scoring drive. Senior Aaron Viscounte jumped on the loose ball to end the scoring threat.

Wittenberg, which is ranked No. 17 by D3Football.com, jumped out to a 14-0 lead before Capital got on the board prior to the Tiger turnover. Late in the second quarter, Capital constructed a 5:06 drive that spanned 75 yards, ending in a touchdown run by sophomore Cory Heeter (Circleville, Ohio). The scoring play was set up by keys plays involving a 41-yard completion to senior wide out Zak Wirick (West Liberty, Ohio) and a 14-yard pass to junior running back Brent Walton (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central). Heeter finished it off by taking a sweep toss down the right side for six points.

Capital took a 14-6 score into the half, but the Tigers came out firing to begin the third quarter. After a rush on the first play of the second half's opening drive, Wittenberg quarterback Zack Jenkins tossed four straight passes, connecting on two, one for a touchdown to Zach Culvahouse from 26 yards out. Capital went three-and-out and failed to convert on a fourth down play deep in its own territory. On the next possession, Wittenberg used one play to cover 28 yards when Jenkins connected with Luke Landis for the score. The Tigers added a third touchdown when Dehnke rammed one home from two yards out, making the score 35-6.

All seemed to be going Wittenberg's way, but Capital began to storm back by scoring 21 unanswered points. Walton scored all three touchdowns from less than five yards out and all came in the fourth quarter. The three scoring drives went for 78, 65 and 73 yards, spanning 12:00 exactly. They found themselves down nine points after connecting on its first two-point conversion attempt, failing on its second and then hitting a point-after try on its final scoring drive.

Capital was unable to gain any more traction and fell by a final score of 38-27.

Walton finished the day with 130 yards on the ground on 21 attempts with three touchdowns. Heeter also added 63 yards on the ground on nine attempts. Altogether, Capital collected 349 rushing yards to pace its offense.

Sophomores Nick Iske (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) and Zak Sheridan (Zanesville, Ohio) both saw times under center. Iske ended the day 4-for-10 and 29 yards through the air and added 23 yards on the ground. Sheridan broke off a big 57-yard run to highlight his day, but also went 3-for-5 and 55 yards through the air.

Capital also improved its third down efficiency, converting 8-of-16 attempts.

Freshman safety J.R. Garrigo led the Crusaders with 13 tackles, six of them of the solo variety. Junior Jimmy Curtis was back in form with nine total tackles and three pass breakups.

Wittenberg was paced by quarterback Zack Jenkins who threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Zach Culvahouse served as his go-to target, catching 12 passes for 197 yards and one touchdown. Luke Landis also pulled down six catches, two for touchdowns, for a total of 71 yards.

Next week the Crusaders will serve a bye and prepare for its next contest at Wilmington College (1-0) on Sept. 19.