Wittenberg Downs Capital in Football Season Opener

Photo Credit: Gaffney
Photo Credit: Gaffney

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Capital University Football opened up a new era under Head Coach Chad Rogosheske. They took the field for the first time on Saturday night, and suffered a 34-0 defeat at the hands of the Wittenberg University Tigers at Edwards-Maurer Field.

Capital (0-1) trailed just 17-0 going into the half and easily could have been down by a few mere points with the chances that they created for themselves. With a new offense in town, the Crusaders moved the ball up the field and were inside the 10-yard line twice in the opening half.

Capital posted a defensive stop that limited Wittenberg to just a field goal despite good field position. The Crusaders then drove down the field 55 yards and found themselves at the 15-yard line ready to threaten for an early lead. Looking for the chance to mark up the scoreboard, quarterback Thomas Wibbeler (Zanesville, Ohio/Ohio Dominican) found Nick Waters on the left side of the field but fell short of getting the first down, resulting in a turnover on downs.

A long pass from Wittenberg quarterback Jake Kennedy put the Tigers into a prime position to add to their lead. Despite its earlier goal line stand, Capital was unable to stop the hosts twice in a row. Kennedy ran the ball in for the touchdown from one yard out. Two drives later, Capital was knocking on the door again, pushing its way down to one-yard line with three downs to spare. The Tigers thwarted three rush attempts up the middle, making the Crusaders face another tough decision on fourth down. This time, Capital elected to go for three points and sent freshman kicker Anis Galal (Berlin, Germany) out for his first collegiate try, however, he missed wide left and the Crusaders left with no points.

Wittenberg added another touchdown in the middle of the second quarter. Thanks to another defensive stop on fourth down, Capital got one more chance to score before the end of the half. Capital made its way to midfield, but Wibbeler was intercepted when he threw downfield.

Capital again opened the half up with another defensive stand inside its own red zone, forcing Wittenberg to settle for a field goal on its opening drive in the third quarter. The Capital offense was still struggling to get any momentum going and twice had drives stall at the 38-yard line in Wittenberg territory. Junior Nick Iske (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) had a chance under center and drove Capital down inside the Wittenberg 20-yard line, but then was met by a fierce pass rush and was sacked twice to drive them 18 yards backward and end the scoring threat.

In Wibbeler's debut at quarterback for the Purple and White, he went 11-for-27 and tallied 179 yards with one interception. His favorite target was junior Nick Waters (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson), who finished the night with seven catches and 75 yards. Freshman David Barnette (Springfield, Ohio/Shawnee) also debuted, taking reps as an outside receiver. He hauled in three catches for 81 yards, his longest reception going for 58 yards.

On the defensive side, sophomore defensive back J.R. Garrigo (Miami, Fla.) ended the night with 11.5 tackles, 10 of those solo. It marks the second straight year that he has posted 10 or more tackles in the season opener, both times against Wittenberg.

Junior linebacker Derek Eibon (Amherst, Ohio) ended the night with 7.5 total tackles, nine coming by way of assist. Senior defensive lineman Tyler Connor (Grove City, Ohio/Grove City) had five tackles, and 2.5 tackles for loss that put the Tigers back 14 yards. Sophomore Jordan Duncan (Sunnyvale, Calif.) collected an interception and a pass breakup.

The Capital offense picked up over 300 yards of total offense, but allowed 475 yards to the Tigers. Of those 304 yards, 240 came through the air.

Wittenberg's Deshawn Sarley collected 93 yards rushing and posted one touchdown. Kennedy went 21-for-31 passing, throwing for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Luke Landis led all Wittenberg receivers with 109 yards and a touchdown on six catches.

Capital enters its bye week, but will begin preparations for its next contest on Sept. 17 when they hit the road for Muskingum University. They will play under the lights at Sherman Field with kickoff coming at 7 p.m.