Football Opens OAC Slate with Roadie to Musky

Football Opens OAC Slate with Roadie to Musky

 Capital University Crusaders


Muskingum University Fighting Muskies

(0-1, 0-0 OAC)   Saturday, Sept. 17  |  7 p.m.   (1-0, 0-0 OAC)
Roster   Sherman Field, McConagha Stadium   Roster
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The Muskies are a very young team, especially on the defensive side. They start three sophomores and one freshman on the D, and three sophomores on the O. Traditionally, the offensive line has been the team's strength but is also where a mix of veteran leadership (two seniors) and youth (two sophomores) will pave the way for senior tailback Jordan Scanlon. They will also have to improve upon 11 tackles for loss allowed in that game. Scanlon struggled in his first game as the team's starter, posting an 18-35-0 line. Senior quarterback Griffin Degener tossed for 165 yards and two touchdowns in his debut, using targets Damon Jones (4-84-1), Granger Long (5-42-0), and Jordan Turek (3-8-0) to help move the ball. Scanlon also caught a team-high five passes out of the backfield for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Muskingum allowed 203 yards passing and 83 yards rushing. Of the 12 Waynesburg first downs, 10 came through the air. With a freshman, sophomore and junior comprising its three-man d-line, Musky managed to sack the Waynesburg quarterback twice, while allowing the secondary to get one interception and three pass deflections. Traci Wilson led the Muskies with 10 total tackles (7 solo), one tackle for loss, and one sack.

After a period of dominance by the Crusaders, the Muskies have started to make this annual meeting more even-keeled. For a 10-year period (2001 to 2011), Muskingum could not defeat the Crusaders. In 2012 and 2013, each game went to overtime with both teams taking away a win. Over the last two years, the teams have split their meetings with the 2014 matchup going to Muskingum, 36-20, and last year's edition went Capital's way, 34-31. Last year's matchup was held at Bernlohr Stadium in the program's first-ever home night football game which brought a capacity crowd.The all-time series sides with Muskingum, 26-37-1 since their first meeting in 1925.

Both teams enjoyed a week two bye, last week. Prior to that, Capital opened up its season with a 34-0 loss at Wittenberg (9/3). While the score makes the game look lopsided, the score could have easily been 34-24 ... or 55-0. Capital came up with key stops on fourth down to thwart multiple Witt scoring drives, had one takeaway via an interception (two had it not been for a penalty to negate the pick), and one sack. The "new-look" Capital offense sported 240 passing yards and 64 rushing yards, and reached the red zone three times. Redshirt-sophomore Thomas Wibbeler went 11-for-27 through the air for 179 yards and a pick, while junior Cory Heeter collected 56 yards on 19 carries as the team's new lead running back.

Muskingum defeated Waynesburg University, 17-16, in its season opener that featured a dramatic ending. After taking a 10-0 lead midway through the second quarter, Waynesburg mounted a pair of scoring drives on each side of the break to regain the lead, 14-10. A 42-yard pass from Griffin Gegener to Damon Jones got Musky back on top, but Waynesburg collected a safety to make it a one-point game. The Yellow Jackets had a chance to take a lead with 1:18 left on the clock, but the field goal attempt hit the left upright and the Muskies ran out the clock to victory.

... these two teams engaged in a historic slugfest, historic because it was also Capital's first home night game at Bernlohr Stadium after the installation of the new light fixtures. It did not disappoint. In front of a capacity crowd, Capital and Muskingum went blow for blow and the team that scored last, won. With 5:52 remaining, Capital finished a seven-play, 65-yard drive that ended in a 13-yard touchdown run by Cory Heeter. B-back Brent Walton ran for over 200 yards and three scores, while Heeter finished with 60 yards on six totes. Derek Eibon had nine tackles, while Eric Stroski made six stops and had one interception. Both teams posted over 400 yards of total offense, with 414 of Cap's 441 yards coming on the ground.

Straight out of Florida, J.R. Garrigo brought his game up north and had a great first year. He led the Crusaders with 75 tackles (19th OAC), 33 of which were solo, and 7.5 per game (15th). Garrigo led the Crusaders with 13 tackles in the season opener, including 10 of the solo variety. He also posted 13 tackles against Witt in the season opener last year, which was also his collegiate debut.

A high school standout at Shawnee High in Springfield, Ohio, David Barnett is putting his talents on display early in his collegiate career. He made three catches for a team-high 81 yards in the team's opener against Wittenberg, including a 58-yard grab in the second quarter. Barnett was a three-time all-conference, and two-time all-district and all-area selection at SHS, where he also holds multiple career, season, and single-game records for yards, receptions, and touchdown receptions. He also participated in the Blue-Gray All-American Bowl.

As mentioned, Capital freshman wide receiver David Barnett was a big deal at Shawnee High School in Springfield, Ohio. For his contributions both on and off the field, plus an exemplary scholastic mark, he was named one of 37 National High School Scholar-Athlete finalists by the National Football Foundation (NFF). He was nominated by the Springfield NFF chapter, and is one of seven to advance as a Midwest regional finalist. On Oct. 3, the NFF will announce the winners of each National Scholar-Athlete Award winner from the five regions represented.

The Crusaders have just seven turnovers through 10 games, last year, finishing the season with a -3 turnover margin. Capital ended the year second in the country in turnovers lost (7). In one game in 2016, Capital has two turnovers and one takeaway.

Special teams have been a big priority over the last two seasons and the punt return numbers can prove it. Through Capital's first three games of 2015, the Crusaders' coverage team did not allow an opponent to return a punt. Mount Union became the first team to return a punt, doing so just once. Keegan Irwin on the season has 31 punts, is averaging 37.4 yards per boot, has pinned nine inside the 20-yard line, induced eight fair catches and one touchback.

Against Wittenberg in the season opener, Capital allowed the Tigers to return just one of Irwin's five punts.

After being out of commission over the last two seasons due to a series of knee injuries, Chase Longwell has decided to return to the field. He spent the 2015 season as a student coach after a setback from an injury sustain in game two of the 2014 season, but desired to come back for another season...or two. He will have junior eligibility after garnering a redshirt for the 2014 season and is set to graduate in December 2017, so he can potentially play for two more seasons.


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