After back-to-back home games to start the 2019 season, The College of Wooster football team (2-0, 1-0 North Coast Athletic Conference) heads out on the road for the first time. Springfield, Ohio is the desintation, and that means Wittenberg University (1-1, 1-0 NCAC) is on tap. Kickoff from the 3,000-seat Edwards-Maurer Field is set for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Wooster is coming off a 17-0 shutout of Oberlin College, which marked the Scots first shutout in a NCAC-opener since blanking Kenyon College 23-0 in 2000. Wittenberg, which played on the road in weeks one and two, downed Hiram College 36-12 on Saturday.
On The Air: Wittenberg will provide a live stream of this week's contest, which can be viewed at https://wittenbergtigers.com/sports/fball/2019-20/boxscores/20190921_m3im.xml. WKVX 960 AM will carry this week's contest live and online at https:wqkt.com.
All-Time Series: Wittenberg leads the all-time series 40-12-1 and has won the last 10 meetings. The teams first met in 1912, a game won by Wooster 12-0. In fact, Wooster won the first two meetings in series history by identical 12-0 scores. Wittenberg holds a 21-3-1 edge in games played in Springfield, and the Tigers have a 20-game home winning streak in the series. Wooster's last win in Springfield was a 27-21 victory back in 1949.
Last Meeting: Led by a spirited all-around effort and a career-high 171 yards rushing by alumnus Antonio Bailey, Wooster went toe-to-toe with No. 21 Wittenberg, but the Scots were unable to finish off the upset bid, and fell to the Tigers 27-21 in the 2018 finale. Wooster found itself on the wrong side of a 27-7 game at halftime before storming back out to John P. Papp Stadium with a renewed purprose.
With 12:54 remaining in the game, alumnus Russell Boston elevated to catch a 12-yard loft throw from sophomore quarterback Mateo Renteria (Houston, Texas/Cypress Creek) to cap a 13-play, 76-yard drive. Sophomore Henry Whyte's (North Huntington, Pa./Norwin) ensuing extra point trimmed the Scots' deficit to six. Wooster had a chance to potentially take the lead with about four minutes remaining, but the Scots had an untimely fumble at the Tigers' 5-yard line.
Offense Notes: Junior Bryce Gresham (Farmington Hills, Mich./North Farmington) turned a short catch into a 55-yard touchdown reception on Saturday, and that marked his first collegiate score. Wooster continued to spread the wealth around when it comes to receptions as seven players logged a catch in the Oberlin game, a week after eight Scots had a catch against Bluffton. Junior Willem Mills (Redondo Beach, Calif./Hill School) got the start at right guard on Saturday for the Scots. Renteria surpassed 250 yards passing for the seventh time in his nine career starts.
Defense Notes: Through two games, Wooster's held the opposition to six points, and that's the second-fewest among all NCAA Div. III programs that have played two games. Worcester Polytechnic Institute is the only team that's allowed fewer points (3) than the Scots. Wooster's one of nine programs which have not allowed a red zone score this year, and of the other eight, only Washington & Jefferson College has played two games. Wooster held Oberlin to 212 yards of total offense, and neither of the Scots' opponents this season have surpassed 300 stripes. Wooster checked in 31st nationally this week in opposition third-down percentage (.219). The Scots' opponents are 7-for-32 on third down thus far in 2019. The Scots' defense has done an exceptional job thus far in terms of getting off the field quickly. Over the first two games, Bluffton and Oberlin combined to have eight drives last six plays or longer. Junior Kea'Shaun Phillips (Toledo, Ohio/Toledo Central Catholic) and senior Christian Santos (Yeadon, Pa./Penn Wood Senior) are tied for the team lead in tackles with 10, and both been part of a takeaway. Santos logged one of Wooster's two interceptions versus Bluffton, while Phillips scooped up the pigskin after senior Robert Alvarez (Fort Washington, Md./Riverdale Baptist School) strip-sacked Oberlin's quarterback on Saturday. In fact, Phillips earned the NCAC's Defensive Athlete of the Week award for his play against Oberlin. Since the start of the 2018 season, Wooster's won the NCAC's defensive weekly honor a league-high four times.
Special Teams Notes: Freshman Lake Barrett (Columbia, S.C./Hammond School) continues to impress on special teams, as he's now 2-for-2 on the young season on field goals, and is a perfect 6-for-6 on extra-point tries. Classmate Matt Pardi (Arlington, Va./Washington-Lee) boomed a 55-yard punt versus the Yeomen, and he gave the Scots a chance to down it inside the 1-yard line, but it ultimately skipped into the end zone. Sophomore Dylan Carr (Heath, Ohio/Licking Valley) and freshman Korey Simmons (Pittsburgh, Pa./Fox Chapel) are the early tackle leaders on special teams, as each have a pair of stops as part of the Scots' kick coverage unit.
This and That: Wooster's 17 points in Saturday's game marked the fewest scored by the Scots since the Black and Gold beat Ohio Wesleyan University 10-6 on September 24, 2011. Prior to Saturday, Wooster's last shutout came on October 27, 2018, when the Scots blanked Kenyon 41-0. The Scots last had shutouts in back-to-back seasons during a three-year stretch from 2004 to 2006. In 2004 Hiram College was blanked 59-0, while MacMurray College was dealt a 37-0 defeat in 2005. In 2006, the Scots logged back-to-back shutouts against Ohio Wesleyan (24-0) and Hiram (52-0). A Wooster win Saturday would up the Scots' record to 3-0 for the second time in the last three seasons. Wooster's been one of the most disciplined teams in Div. III thus far, as the Scots have been whistled for six penalties, and at three per game, that's the ninth-best average within the division.