Crusaders Ready to Light Up Muskies on Saturday

Last year, Cory Heeter (pictured) scored three touchdowns on the ground against the Muskies at McConagha Stadium. (photo credit: Jamie Gaffney)
Last year, Cory Heeter (pictured) scored three touchdowns on the ground against the Muskies at McConagha Stadium. (photo credit: Jamie Gaffney)

 Capital University Crusaders


Muskingum Fighting Muskies

(1-1, 0-1 OAC)   Saturday, Sept. 16  |  7:00 p.m.   (0-1, 0-0 OAC)
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Freshman Brody Hahn earned the nod as the team's starting quarterback and has served as a dual threat, producing 484 yards through the air and 111 on the ground in two games. He has four total touchdowns, three passing. Hahn's favorite targets so far have been TE Granger Long (10-104-1 // receptions-yards-touchdowns) and WR Darius Hayes-Carruth (9-131-0). Bernard Johnson has taken the bulk of touches in the backfield (38-216-2). Linebackers Drew Lowery and Brandon Schon have been ballhawks with a combined 33 tackles and five tackles for a loss. The defense has just three sacks to its name, but its freshmen DBs have come up big. Brian Brown has two interceptions and three pass breakups, while Nehemiah Bowie has a forced fumble and two pass defenses. They pitched a 19-0 shutout against Waynesburg, but then gave up 41 points in a loss to Otterbein.
Cap moved the ball well with over 400 yards of total offense. Cory Heeter ran 20 times for 87 yards and three touchdowns, while QB Thomas Wibbeler went 16-261-3 (completions-yards-touchdowns). David Barnett caught the first touchdown pass of his career while racking up 96 yards on five catches. The defense, led by LB Derek Eibon, forced five turnovers on the night. Eibon had a career-high 19 tackles and forced one fumble. Linebacker Kane Murray forced a fumble, recorded one sack, and tallied eight tackles.
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. The 2015 matchup was held at Bernlohr Stadium in the program's first-ever home night football game which brought a capacity crowd. Capital has won back-to-back meetings and three of the last four. The all-time series sides with Muskingum, 27-37-1 since their first meeting in 1925.
Two weeks ago, the Capital Student-Athlete Advisory Committe (SAAC) collected monetary and clothing donations to help people in the Houston area adversely affected by Hurricane Harvey. On that day, SAAC collected more than $225 and shipped six large boxes of clothing to impacted areas! Thank you for your generosity! 
For more details, read the full story!
PROGRAM NOTE: All gameday programs have been converted to a digital format. The gameday program is available for download here or on the link above. You can also access the program from your seat on your mobile device by scanning QR codes located around the stadium. Rosters and depth charts will be provided free of charge in the stadium, at will call, and also by digital download.
While allowing 38 points does not sound like a productive start to the season, there were bright spots to the Cap defense's performance on opening day against Mount St. Joseph.
- LB Kane Murray set a new career high in tackles (14)
- DL James Zamor recorded 1.5 sacks in his return after a two-year hiatus
- Derek Eibon recorded an interception on Muskingum's first offensive possession of the game
- The defense produced three three-and-outs and one turnover on downs
- Reigning HCAC Freshman of the Year Chaiten Tomlin (QB) was limited to just 157 yards passing, just over 200 total yards, and a completion percentage under 33 percent.
David Barnett caught three touchdown passes in Capital's huge homecoming spoiler over rival Otterbein last year (10/1). The last time a Capital wide receiver caught three touchdown passes in a single game was when Ryan Gunnarson did so against Heidelberg nearly six years ago to the day on Oct. 2, 2010. 
What makes a quarterback happy? More weapons to throw to! Dartavious (Dar) Stanford joined the Crusaders this offseason after playing the last two years at nearby Ohio Dominican University (NCAA Division II) as a wide receiver. At ODU, Stanford accumulated 831 yards on 72 catches and made five touchdown grabs. In 2016, he was the Panthers' second-leading receiver after making 60 grabs for 687 yards and four touchdowns. Stanford is no stranger to starting quarterback Thomas Wibbeler. The two, as well as with offensive lineman Zach Clapper, played together at Zanesville High School on some of the program's more successful teams of late.
In his debut, Stanford made four catches for 70 yards and recorded his first touchdown grab with Cap in the team's loss to Mount St. Joseph on Sept. 2. 
Another key returner coming back from an injury is senior running back Cory Heeter. Heeter was lost during game six against Mount Union, but was well on pace to break the single-season rushing touchdown record after posting seven over his first four games. The current record is 14 set by Al White in 1959.
In his return to the lineup on Sept. 2, Heeter racked up 171 total yards, 85 of those on the ground on 16 touches. He is now just 96 yards from hitting 1,000 in his career. 
Junior quarterback Thomas Wibbeler is back and ready to get back onto the field after sustaining a season-ending knee injury against John Carroll (10/22) . He has been tabbed Capital's starting quarterback for the second season in a row. Prior to the injury, Wibbeler completed 114-of-214 passes (53.3%) for 1,556 yards and 11 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He became just the third CU quarterback to hit 1,500 yards passing since 2003, and that number could have been north of 2,000 had it not been for the injury.
In his return to the lineup two weeks ago, he went 21-for-42 for 261 yards with three touchdown passes and three interceptions against Mount St. Joseph (9/2). 
Like water, senior WR/RET Nick Waters has seemed to find the cracks in opposing defenses and special teams units. Last year, Waters finished third in the OAC in yards per kickoff return (22.7) and all-purpose yards per game (139.3). On the receiving end, he finished seventh in yards per catch (13.2) and even turned in the third-longest kickoff return of the season (63 yards).
Waters will again line up as a starting wide receiver and serve as the primary return man on both punts and kickoffs.
Through 10 games in 2016, Capital had 19 turnovers and 23 takeaways (+4). In all of their wins last season, Cap won or equaled their opponent in the turnover battle.
Last week, Capital turned the ball over four times and caused just one in the loss to Mount St. Joseph (9/2). 
Senior linebacker Derek Eibon sees the field better than anyone, and that makes sense considering he is looking to pursue a career in optometry. As highlighted at OAC Media Day, Eibon is studying to practice in the field after serving two internships with different family members that are also optometrists. 
On the field, Eibon led the team and finished seventh in the OAC with 81 tackles. He ranked second in the conference in assisted tackles (53) and tackles per game (9.0). For his career, he has 161 tackles and is averaging 6.7 per game since becoming a starter as a sophomore. 
Eibon made 11 tackles against Mount St. Joseph (9/2), marking the seventh time in his career he has made 10 or more tackles in his career. He was also responsible for Capital's lone caused turnover, intercepting one pass against Mount St. Joseph (9/2).
Capital has a strong foursome to lead the team into Saturday gamedays. The following individuals will serve as captains this season, as voted on by the team:
#12 Nick Iske, QB, Sr.
#13 Cory Heeter, RB, Sr.
#6   Shawn Facione Jr., LB, Sr.
#30 Derek Eibon, LB, Sr. 
Capital has had a busy offseason building its roster numbers, grooming newcomers, first-years and freshmen, as well as preparing its student-athletes for its athletic, academic, and social endeavors. The Crusaders enter game one with 102 on the active roster, including 43 freshmen, 20 sophomores, 26 juniors, and 17 seniors. 
Capital finished the 2016 season with a loss at home to Heidelberg, exiting the year with a 4-6 overall record and 4-5 OAC record. In Chad Rogosheske's first year as head coach, that marked a one-win improvement from the previous year, which was also the most since 2011. The Purple and White have key components returning fully healthy and escaped the preseason with minimal harm, and are now ready to keep battling to bring the program back to its once lofty status.
Looking to maximize his built frame and knack to do great things with or near the ball, senior Isaiah Lyle has switched positions from running back to linebacker. In three seasons as a running back, Lyle ran 64 times for 282 yards and one touchdown. His best season was in 2015 when he filled in for the injured Brent Walton and ran 40 times for 234 yards and one score. 
He has done so well in the offseason he has been listed as the No. 2 middle linebacker behind senior Derek Eibon.
A couple of this year's Crusaders took a year (or two) off, or came to Cap Football from other sports and now are donning purple and white.
#31 Antwan Shipp, DB
Played in seven games in 2015, made one tackle.
#67 James Zamor, DL
Played in 10 games between 2014-15.
#84 Ben Drake, WR
Played baseball at Cap in 2016, first year of football.
#86 Noah Dall, TE
Played two games at slotback in 2014.
Until the very last game of the 2016 season, Capital had one of the best punt coverage units in the league and was top 50 in the nation. One return changed that. In season finale on Nov. 12, 2016, Heidelberg's Justin Hutchins returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown. Prior to that, Capital had not allowed an opposing team to return a punt for a touchdown in nearly six years. Jasper Collins of Mount Union was the last to do so when he went 47 yards the other way on Oct. 23, 2010. 
At this year's OAC Football Media Day, the coaches and media member were polled to see their views on how they believe the season will play out. Capital Football was tabbed to finish eighth by the coaches, and seventh by the media.
Polls are just polls, but here they are:
COACHES: 1. Mount Union (80, 8), 2. JCU (74, 2), 3. Heidelberg (6), 4. ONU (54), 5. Otterbein (52), 6. Baldwin Wallace (38), 7. Marietta (32), 
8. Capital (31), 9. Muskingum (18), 
10. Wilmington (11).
MEDIA: 1. Mount Union (345, 26), 2. JCU (327, 9), 3. ONU (265), 4. Heidelberg (244, 1),  
5. Otterbein (212), 6. Baldwin Wallace (180), 
7. Capital (143), 8. Muskingum (101), 9. Marietta (101), 10. Wilmington (40).
For complete coverage from media day, including interviews with SR LB Derek Eibon and SR WR Nick Waters plus Head Coach Chad Rogosheske, click here.


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