Defense Puts on a First Half Show, JCU Blanks Cap on the Road

Photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography
Photo credit: Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography

By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio – Had score seekers found the score between John Carroll University and Capital University at halftime, eyebrows would have raised. Down by fewer than two scores the Crusaders defense was the talk of the first half. However, the Blue Streaks broke through in the second and went on the defeat Capital, 44-0, at Don Shula Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday's Ohio Athletic Conference showdown pitted Capital against the 11th-ranked team in NCAA Division III and through the first half the Crusaders held their own by limiting the Blue Streaks to just six points through the first 28 minutes of play. John Carroll's first drive of the game took them inside the Capital 10-yard line, but the Crusaders held strong and forced Matt Danko to come out for the first of four field goal attempts. He hit the 26-yard attempt to put John Carroll up, 3-0, and then would be called upon later in the first after another Capital stop.

Sophomore kicker Blake Middleton (Miamisburg, Ohio/Miamisburg) attempted to match Dank on the Crusaders' first drive but his 32-yard attempt sailed wide right and kept the guests off the board. Capital's defense helped ease the hurt when they forced JCU into a three-and-out on the following possession and then stopped the Blue Streaks again on its following drive which stalled after the quarter flipped to the second with the score still 3-0.

While the Capital offense sputtered, the defense kept chugging along. The pass defense forced two incompletions and JCU's lead rusher, Michael Canganelli, was stopped just over the line of scrimmage to induce yet another three-and-out. The only points that John Carroll scored until the final minute of the half were all off the leg of Danko and his second attempt he had to earn from 49 yards away.

The Crusaders defense continued to keep the score close after having forced a punt following three unsuccessful attempts to move the ball for the fourth time in the half. Danko missed a 47-yard field goal, keeping the deficit to six, but John Carroll's final possession of the first half featured its first touchdown. Facing third and one, JCU quarterback Anthony Moeglin completed a shovel pass to Danny Disbrow which was taken 39 yards into the end zone. Capital trailed just 13-0 to the nationally-ranked Blue Streaks at the half.

Capital received the opening kickoff in the second half but still struggled to move the ball downfield. The John Carroll defense was just as staunch as they tallied eight sacks against the Crusaders' line. CU quarterback Thomas Wibbeler was limited to just 193 yards on 23-for-42 through the air and threw just his second interception of the season late in the second half. Wide receivers David Barnett and Dartavious Stanford combined for 14 catches, seven each. With his seven catches, Barnett tied Keith Willike '88 for number five on the all-time CU receptions list (151).

While Capital continued to struggle on the offensive side of the ball, John Carroll made the necessary adjustments to rattle off four touchdowns, two in each quarter. Anthony Moeglin threw two more touchdown passes hitting his receivers for scores of 38 and 19 yards, while running back Michael Canganelli hit paydirt from three yards out to account for the first of the four touchdowns. Backup quarterback Riley Larkin scored on a two-yard run to drive the score to 44-0.

Sophomore linebacker Blayde McCully led the team with eight total tackles while sophomores Jake Elsayed and Kobe Swackhammer each had seven.

Capital (0-5, 0-4 OAC) will now gear up for another nationally-ranked opponent, the defending champion and number-one ranked Purple Raiders of the University of Mount Union. Both shades of purple will clash at Bernlohr Stadium on Saturday, October 13 at 1:30 p.m.