By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
ALLIANCE, Ohio – Capital University Football stepped up to its tallest task of the season, No. 2 University of Mount Union, on Saturday at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance, Ohio. The Purple Raiders defended its home turf successfully behind a 72-14 victory over the Crusaders.
Capital was able to score 14 points in the first quarter of the game and for a moment went toe-to-toe with the mighty Purple Raiders. As the trend has been this season, Mount Union (5-0, 4-0 OAC) struck first with the first of seven 25-plus yard plays on the day. On the third play of its opening drive, Mount Union's Braeden Friss received a 57-yard pass from D'Angelo Fulford to get on the board. That touchdown pass was one of six Fulford threw over the course of the day.
Capital then came back and had a three-play scoring drive of its own The Crusaders cashed in on a 62-yard reception by senior Nick Waters (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Davidson) from junior quarterback Thomas Wibbeler (Zanesville, Ohio/Zanesville) on its first play from scrimmage. Wibbeler ran the ball for a couple yards and lost his helmet on the play, forcing freshman Hayden Kotwica (Troy, Ohio/Troy) to come in to take the next snap. As a result of the rule, Kotwica had an opportunity to throw his first career touchdown pass, a 10-yarder to junior running back Nateshawn Hargrove to get Capital on the board.
The Capital touchdown served as just the second first-half touchdown allowed by the Purple Raiders this season, and also marked the first time a team had tied Mount Union at any point in the game after the first points were put on the scoreboard.
Tied 7-7, Mount Union went into a hurry up offense and took five plays to get back into the end zone, and with two more touchdown passes by Fulford took a two-score lead.
Capital marked up the scoreboard once again in the middle of the first quarter, using a steady air attack to get inside the red zone. Wibbeler connected with junior Dartavious Stanford (Zanesville, Ohio/Zanesville) for a 14-yard touchdown pass-and-catch to creep within one score of the Purple Raiders following Blake Middleton's successful point-after touchdown.
Thirty-five points were tallied between these two teams just 10 minutes into the first quarter, and only seven points separated them.
Mount Union (6-0, 5-0 OAC) then threw its offense into another gear by scoring the rest of the game's points. Jawanza Evans-Morris scoring back-to-back rushing touchdowns on 14 and 20-yard runs. Jared Ruth then caught touchdown passes of 25 and five yards from Fulford, all in consecutive drives, to go up 49-14 with under five minutes to go in the second quarter. Mount Union added one more touchdown before the half to take a 56-14 advantage into the half.
The hosts went on to find the end zone once more and add three field goals to account for its 72 total points.
The Purple Raiders defense, which allowed just 6.2 points per game on average to opponents coming into the game, did its part after giving up two touchdowns. Capital went three-and-out six times after its second scoring drive and was held to just two drives of over 20 yards, which were reserved for the last two times the Crusaders were on offense.
Capital's Thomas Wibbeler finished 15-for-33, 204 yards and one touchdown through the air. He was intercepted twice.
Hayden Kotwica reentered the game later and finished 2-for-3 in the air for 48 yards, including his touchdown pass from the first quarter. Kotwica also served as the team's leading rusher, accounting for 24 yards on five attempts.
Stanford had another 100-yard receiving game, his fourth of the season and third straight and caught his seventh touchdown pass. He now has at least one touchdown grab in five of six games this year.
Capital (1-5, 1-4 OAC) will regroup for a home contest versus John Carroll University (3-3, 3-2 OAC) next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. from Purmort Field at Benrlohr Stadium. John Carroll lost to Ohio Northern University 27-20 in overtime in action earlier today.