Steady Marietta Ground Assault Spoils Home Finale

Pictured: Eric Stroski (Photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)
Pictured: Eric Stroski (Photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography)

By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Capital University Football fell victim to Marietta College's ground game set the tone for Saturday afternoon's Ohio Athletic Conference football contest between the Pioneers and Crusaders, leading the Purple and White to a 49-21 loss at Bernlohr Stadium.  Behind 21 unanswered points from the middle of the third quarter on, the Pioneers spoiled Capital's Senior Day and delivered them its seventh consecutive loss.

Marietta became the fifth straight team to accumulate over 275 yards on the ground against the Crusaders defense. The Pioneers controlled the clock and tempo behind 362 rushing yards, 224 of those coming from running back Roger Walker, and five of their seven touchdowns came via the rush.

Capital rebounded after being down 14-0 after the first quarter when junior quarterback Thomas Wibbeler (Zanesville, Ohio/Zanesville) hit junior wide receiver Dartavious Stanford (Zanesville, Ohio/Zanesville) with a 10-yard touchdown strike to cap off a six-play, 22 yard drive. The drive was set up with senior linebacker Derek Eibon's second interception of the season and was aided by junior defensive end Cory Mays (Cleveland, Ohio/Shaker Heights), who batted the ball out of the air and floated into Eibon's grasps.

After Marietta retained its 14-point lead, Wibbeler continued the Crusaders' pass-heavy offensive plan and went 71 yards to paydirt in four plays. Wibbeler helped sophomore David Barnett (Springfield, Ohio/Shawnee) match Stanford's 10 touchdown grabs with a 24-yard scoring pass-and-catch at the top of the third quarter. The point-after touchdown make by Blake Middleton (Miamisburg, Ohio/Miamisburg) brought the Crusaders to within one touchdown, but Marietta then laid on its run of 21 points to break away for a comfortable lead.

Marietta continued its continuous barrage of rushes, totaling 50 to its 27 pass attempts. The tandem of Walker, Tanner Clark and Geavonie Love in addition to Fields' dual-threat capability wore down the Capital defense. Walker scored his third rushing touchdown on a 70-yard scamper just three minutes into the fourth quarter to round out the run on points.

Wibbeler and Stanford connected one final time to make it 42-21, but the Pioneers retaliated with one more score of their own to lead to the final.

Stanford now has taken the team lead with 11 touchdown catches on the season, and together with Barnett they have now become the first duo of Capital wide receivers to make 10 touchdown catches each in a single season since 2006 (Derek Alexander, Mike Niedwiecki).

Wibbeler once again had a solid day with a 24-for-46 performance, 279 yards and three touchdowns. He now has eclipsed 2,500 passing yards and has 27 touchdowns on the year.

With three made PATs on Saturday, Blake Middleton has now made 18 straight dating back to Sept. 30.

Capital featured three players with double-digit tackle counts in senior Eric Stroski (12), and juniors LaShaun Sanders Jr. (11) and Kane Murray (10). Murray also forced one fumble and broke up one pass.

Prior to the game, Capital celebrated its 16-man senior class as they prepared to play their final home game of their careers. Thank you to:

Zach Clapper (OL, Zanesville)
Noah Dall (TE, Dublin)
Derek Eibon (LB, Amherst)
Shawn Facione Jr. (LB, Marion)
Eriq Hall (DB, Lorain)
Nick Iske (QB/TE, Hilliard)
Zack Kennedy (OL, Grove City)
Kristopher Lee (DL, Piqua)
Edward Lehman (OL, Longwood, Fla.)
Isaiah Lyle (LB, Youngstown)
Trey Reese (TE/DL, Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Hunter Smith (RB, Zanesville)
Eric Stroski (DB, Concord)
Nick Waters (WR, Hilliard)
Austin White (DB, Johnstown)
James Zamor (DL, Cape Coral, Fla.)

Capital will wrap up the 2017 season with a road game against Heidelberg University on Saturday, Nov. 11 in Tiffin. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.