By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Capital University football team was met by a staunch Baldwin Wallace University defense at Bernlohr Stadium on its homecoming game, and the Crusaders were unable to break through in a 45-17 loss on Saturday afternoon.
The Crusaders struck first when a muffed punt by Baldwin Wallace return the ball back to the hosts and gave them an extra chance to mark up the scoreboard. Though the drive did not go far it ended in a successful 32-yard field goal by sophomore Blake Middleton (Miamisburg, Ohio/Miamisburg). The Yellow Jackets were slow to get going as that score stood at the end of the first quarter but at the top of the second quarter the momentum began to turn.
Baldwin Wallace (4-1, 3-1 OAC) then dropped 31 unanswered points over the next 26:34 of clock time. A long pass down the field at the top of the second quarter set up the first of three consecutive Jon Murray Jr. touchdowns and the first of his two rushing. All three touchdown drives in the second quarter went for at least 76 yards. Baldwin Wallace kicker Jimmy Marshall added a 40-yard field as the clock expired and took both teams to halftime with a 24-3 score.
The Yellow Jackets then stung the Crusaders again with a 35-yard yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Hudson to wide receiver Jordan Leverette to open the second half, driving the score to 31-3. Capital broke up the scoring run with a touchdown grab by senior Dar Stanford (Zanesville, Ohio/Zanesville), a catch that propelled him into the top-5 all-time in Capital history for touchdown catches. The grab was set up by a big play by senior wide receiver Connor McCloud (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) when he made a catch on the sideline, stopped on a dime and toed the end line before breaking a tackle and willing his way down to the BW 16-yard line. That catch went for 74 yards, just short of quarterback Thomas Wibbeler's career high but more than enough to reset McCloud's longest reception. Five plays later on a fourth and one opportunity, Wibbeler hit Stanford in the end zone to make it a three-score game.
The rest of the third quarter did not feature another score but the Yellow Jackets opened the fourth quarter with a 66-yard touchdown run by Hudson when the pocket broke down and he was able to maneuver his way through the Capital defense and down the sideline for another score.
Capital was given another opportunity with a short field when sophomore safety Jake Elsayed (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills) jarred the ball loose and senior LaShaun Sanders Jr. (Columbus, Ohio/St. Francis) scooped it up and ran it down to the six-yard line. Wibbeler connected for his second touchdown pass of the day when he hit a wide open David Barnett for the score as he was being tackled to the ground.
Murray tacked on his fourth touchdown of the day late in the fourth quarter with a short-yardage rush up the middle to account for the final points of the game. He finished with 149 yards on 16 carries.
Wibbeler was under heavy pressure all day long and despite being sacked seven times was still able to go 31-for-58, account for 338 yards and sling two touchdowns. He threw his first interception of the year and first since the last time these two teams played back on Oct. 28, 2017.
For the first time in his career, Connor McCloud led the Crusaders in receiving with seven catches for a team-high 115 yards. Dar Stanford made a team-best nine catches and recorded his third straight 100-yard game and 11th of his career.
With his seven catches and 54 yards, David Barnett (Springfield, Ohio/Shawnee) joined an exclusive club. Barnett is now just the fifth Crusader to achieve 2,000 career receiving yards, joining all-time leader (2007-11), Keith Willike (1984-87), Chris Copeland (1997-2000), and Dan Peterson (1998-2001).
Michael Lauofo (Miamisburg, Ohio/Miamisburg) led the defense with 10 tackles, while Elsayed had eight tackles to go along with his forced fumble and one pass breakup.
Wyatt Pertuset (Richfield, Ohio/Richfield) set two new personal bests punting for Capital, the first for a new personal long of 55 yards and his three punts pinned inside the opponent's 20-yard line also mark a new best for the junior.
Capital (0-4, 0-3 OAC) will hit the road next week for another conference showdown, this time in University Heights, Ohio to face John Carroll University. The Crusaders and Blue Streaks will square off at Don Schula Stadium at 1:30 p.m.