Crusaders Look to Increase Lengthy Streak Over Wilmington

Pictured: Edward Lehman (75) / photo credit: Jamie Gaffney
Pictured: Edward Lehman (75) / photo credit: Jamie Gaffney

 Capital University Crusaders


Wilmington College Fightin' Quakers

(1-1, 0-1 OAC)   Saturday, Sept. 23  |  7:30 p.m.   (1-1, 1-0 OAC)
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First-year head coach Brian Moore earned his first win and broke a 19-game losing streak that dated back to the second week of the 2015 season (a streak started by Capital), by defeating Earlham College on its opening weekend, 49-20. That performance was led by a school-record tying 381 rushing yards, 120 of which came from Eric Flynn Jr. Flynn was then limited to 23 yards rushing last week against Otterbein. Senior QB Luke Creditt is still Wilmington's top offensive weapon and leads the Quakers in rushing (181) and passing yards (316), and accounts for four touchdowns. PJ Meyer is Creditt's favorite target with an eight-catch, 202-yard stat line and two touchdowns. Seven of Wilmington's 11 touchdowns this season have come on the ground, though.
The Wilmington defense has done a good job at not allowing its secondary to serve as its leading tacklers. Led by sophomore LB Bryan Gonzalez, the line and linebackers make up a majority of its top defenders. Gonzalez leads the team with 19 tackles and was in on one team's three sacks. Next in line is senior DE Ryan Prince (14), who also has a team-leading three tackles for loss, one fumble forced, and one fumble recovery.
... Cap scored first and scored often. WR David Barnett began to break out with the first multi-touchdown game of his career. While the Capital offense actually was outgained by Wilmington, the Crusaders also caused four turnovers (all interceptions) to keep Wilmington to just 13 points through 55 minutes of play. Cory Heeter ran in three touchdowns, all from within four yards out, and Barnett caught two TD passes from QB Thomas Wibbeler. Jordan Duncan also added two points early  by returning an extra point attempt 98 yards after Wilmington scores its first points.
The all-time series between these two teams favors the Crusaders, heavily. Capital holds a 20-4 overall record in 24 meetings since their first in 1923. Wilmington has not beaten a Capital team since 2000 when the Quakers downed the Crusaders, 34-27. That meeting was the first time the two teams had met in 22 years (1977). After that Quaker win in 2000, Capital has won each of the last 15 meetings and each of the last six have been by at least 13 points. 
Capital used a combination of unstoppable offense with timely defense to rake in a 39-28 victory over Muskingum University under the lights at Bernlohr Stadium. After Muskingum marked up the scoreboard first and took a 14-7 lead, Capital went on to score 32 unanswered points to take a commanding lead over the Muskies. Capital took a 39-14 lead into the fourth quarter, and two touchdowns late in the game are the only scores Musky was able to put on the board, including a 90-yard fumble recovery for a TD with under a minute to go. Muskingum was limited to just 158 yards passing, and Capital caused three turnovers to keep the ball in their court en route to their first victory of the season.
Through two games, Capital has forced opposing quarterbacks to throw three interceptions, take three sacks, and possess completion percentages less than 50 percent. Junior DB Jordan Duncan has one of those sacks and has two passes defended. LaShaun Sanders Jr. leads the team with four passes broken up and also has one pick. 
Reigning HCAC Freshman of the Year Chaiten Tomlin (Mount St. Joseph) was limited to just 157 yards passing, just over 200 total yards, and a completion percentage under 33 percent. It didn't get any better for Muskingum's Brody Hahn, who tossed two picks, went 11-for-23 and just 113 yards through the air.
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. His speed helps stretch the field, and that was evident in his performance in a win versus Muskingum. He made five catches for 126 yards and one touchdown. Two of his catches were for greater than 40 yards.
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 in 2016, he was the Panthers' second-leading receiver after making 60 grabs for 687 yards and four touchdowns. 
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 then came back versus the Muskies last week and tallied 99 yards on the ground, which helped him eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in his career. He has been known for his ball security having lost a fumble just twice in 221 career touches. 
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.
It's not often that one town, or one high school can provide a college team such a significant portion of a team's offense (or defense for that matter). Junior WR Dar 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. Stanford and Wibbeler have connected nine times for 196 yards (team high) and two touchdowns. Clapper has helped keep Wibbeler clean to be able to sling it. He and the rest of the O-line have surrendered just three sacks.
After his first collegiate punt landed inside the 10-yard line against Mount St. Joseph, freshman Avery Wirt hit a rough patch that lasted the rest of the game. However, he came back last week against Muskingum and boomed out an average punt close to 40 yards per boot and landed one of his four inside the five-yard line. His longest, to date, is 53 yards.
Cap fans got its first taste of junior RB Nateshawn Hargrove last week in late time versus Muskingum. While the Muskies were left with a bitter taste, fans loved seeing Hargrove pound out 59 yards on seven carries (8.4 ypc) and one touchdown. Hargrove came to Capital after spending two seasons at Notre Dame College (Ohio), where he spent a majority of the time playing special teams. 
Junior QB Thomas Wibbeler was named the OAC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 3 of the 2017 season. Against Muskingum, he threw for 318 yards (19-34) and four touchdowns without turning the ball over in the Crusaders' win.
After seeing a little more of sophomore Antwan Shipp, its likely his rep count will increase this week versus Wilmington. Listed as a DB, all were caught off guard when he lined up to help receive kicks and take a few handoffs out of the backfield. Shipp ran four times for 11 yards and went 20 yards on his lone kickoff return against Muskingum (9/16).
No coach likes seeing zeros on the scoreboard, unless its the second digit of a number. Unfortunately for Cap, that is the number that represents their fourth-quarter scoring. Capital has yet to register a point in the fourth quarter, even though last week's game was well in hand heading into the final stanza. Last year, Capital scored a combined 48 points in the fourth quarter. 
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.
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 in the season opener against Mount St. Joseph (9/2), he went 21-for-42 for 261 yards with three touchdown passes and three interceptions. 
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.
In week 1, Capital turned the ball over four times and caused just one in the loss to Mount St. Joseph (9/2). Last week, they caused three turnovers and committed just one. They now have a -1 turnover ratio in 2017.
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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