October 22, 2013

Wabash goes to great depths to find rushers

More news about: Wabash
As a running back, Grant Klembara plowed ahead for 162 yards last weekend against Kenyon. And before then, he hadn't even been on offense this season.
Wabash athletics photos

Wabash head coach Erik Raeburn could be mistaken for a magician. He seems to have a knack for pulling rabbits, or in this case, running backs out of a hat and letting them work their magic on the field.

Four times this season, the Little Giants have turned to a different back to lead the way, the last two times because season-ending injuries forced Raeburn to go a little deeper into his depth chart.

All four have produced 150-yard games, the latest performance coming from Grant Klembara, who rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown in last Saturday's 48-7 win over Kenyon. Klembara was playing defense a week earlier and would have been the fifth man on the depth chart when the season began.

"It's crazy how deep we are at running back, but that is a testament to the coaches for bringing in players who can step up if needed," Klembara said. "We have a lot of athletes on this team, and it's good to know we have guys capable of filling in if needed."

Like Anthony Stella, who two months ago was a linebacker making the transition to offense. All he did in a game against Ohio Wesleyan earlier this month was gash the Bishops for 189 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-13 victory.

"People will ask us how many running backs we have on our team," Stella said. "We all support each other and help each other out. The nice thing is that no matter who we have put in there, we continue to win."

Stella and Klembara probably wouldn't be the focus of defenses out of the backfield had it not been for a double dose of bad luck.

Tyler Holmes started out the year as the go-to running back. He rushed for 258 yards and three touchdowns in two games before going down with a torn ACL.

Mason Zurek was more than capable of stepping up in his place, but in the fifth game of the year, he broke his leg and dislocated his ankle. Zurek rushed for 522 yards and five touchdowns before seeing his season end.

Most teams would be doomed losing their top two backs. And while the 16th-ranked Little Giants have managed to survive, remaining unbeaten at 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the NCAC, Raeburn said it's not the easiest situation to be in.

"It's been tough to deal with, and it's disappointing when you lose two really good running backs," Raeburn said. "But going into the season we felt like we had a lot of talent at that position. Anthony and Grant have both done tremendous jobs filling in."

Stella, who played defense as a freshman last year, tallying eight tackles, made the switch to running back in the spring. And while he was a standout running back in high school, he admits he was a little nervous before the game against Ohio Wesleyan.

"I was a little nervous, but as I started to play, I become more comfortable," said Stella, who has rushed for 372 yards and six touchdowns on the season. The offensive line did a great job of blocking for me, and my teammates helped me get ready that week. I thought it was a big confidence boost for me to play as well as I did in that game."

Klembara, who played running back for the junior varsity team as a freshman in 2011 and saw action on special teams a year ago, was making his mark on defense prior to last week. He had 12 tackles and one sack in five games.

Another former Little Giant defender who doesn't look a bit out of place lining up on the offensive side of the ball is Anthony Stella, who has nearly 400 yards already this season.

"The big thing for me was getting a refresher in the plays," Klembara said. "I have to give a lot of credit to our offensive line. Their effort was tremendous. I was glad I had the opportunity to come in and help the team. It was a good experience for me."

Jumping from defense to offense wasn't an issue for him.

"I played running back and defense in high school, so I was used to doing it," Klembara said. "To be as successful as I was in our last game gave me a lot of confidence."

Raeburn said the fact that the Little Giants have been successful at taking care of the football and efficient in the red zone has been helpful in overcoming the loss of two of its key running backs.

Wabash has turned the ball over only seven times and has forced 22. The Little Giants are about as efficient as you can get in the red zone, converting on 33 of their 34 opportunities, including scoring a touchdown 22 times.

The defense hasn't been bad either. Wabash is giving up only 214.8 yards per game and has racked up 28 sacks. The Little Giants have only allowed an opponent into the red zone six times and opponents are converting just 17 percent of the time on third down.

If there is a benefit to losing two players to injury and having players successfully fill those voids, it is that back-ups at other positions have now seen how important it is to be focused and ready to step up at a moment's notice.

"If there is a silver lining it's that our back-up players are definitely more focused and they are going to work even harder in practice to be ready to go," Raeburn said. "They now realize they are an injury away from being the guy that has to step up."

In the poll

It was business as usual for top-ranked Mount Union as it clobbered Capital 58-3 in an OAC game on Saturday. The Purple Raiders stretched the nation's longest win streak to 21 games while pushing their regular-season win streak to 79. Their regular-season road win streak is at 113 games.

Kevin Burke rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns while throwing for 176 yards and two scores to pace the Purple Raiders (6-0, 5-0 OAC). Jack Nicholls had three catches for 86 yards and score.

LeShawn Luke and Jonathan Gonnell came through with 10 tackles apiece while Alex Kocheff racked up five tackles to go along with two forced fumbles and two
recovered fumbles.

Capital managed only 144 yards, finishing with minus five yards passing. The Crusaders did not get across midfield in the first half against Mount Union, which has held four teams to 10 points or less.

Cartel Brooks set a single-game rushing record of 337 yards and also broke a record for touchdowns in a game with five as he helped No. 12 Heidelberg roll to a 35-17 win over Otterbein on Saturday.

Brooks broke the old record of 301 set in 1999 by Jeff Brock.

Heidelberg finished with 451 yards of offense and allowed 433. The Student Princes (6-0, 5-0) took a 21-10 lead into halftime.

Mitchell Kelly racked up 12 tackles to pace the defense for Heidelberg. Will Lance added eight tackles while Andy Kujawa and Chase Bauer came through with seven tackles apiece.

The Student Princes gave up 354 yards through the air but held the Cardinals to only 79 yards on the ground.

Heidelberg hasn't let a team score more than 17 points on it in the last four games. The 35 points it scored is its lowest point total of the year.

No. 14 Wabash kept its unbeaten record intact on Saturday as it cruised to a 48-7 win over Kenyon in NCAC action.

Wabash is 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the conference.

Ian McDougal nailed two field goals in the win and is 10-for-10 on the season. The Little Giants rolled up 528 yards of offense and limited Kenyon to 157 yards. Michael Putko had a big game through the air, completing 17 of his 26 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns.

Jon Laird caught two of those scoring strikes and finished with five catches for 90 yards. Houston Hodges caught five passes for 39 yards and made one touchdown grab.

Nate Scola led the defensive effort with eight tackles, and Evan Rutter added six tackles.

Behind a tidal wave of 38 unanswered points, No. 16 John Carroll rolled to a 41-9 win over Muskingum on Saturday.

The Blue Streaks trailed 3-0 and 9-3 before blowing the game open en route to remaining unbeaten. John Carroll is 6-0 for the first time since 1989. The Blue Streaks are 5-0 in the OAC.

Special teams played a key role in the win as Brody Zangaro returned a punt 39 yards for a touchdown that put the Blue Streaks ahead for good at 10-9.

Mark Myers stepped up and helped lead the way offensively as he threw for 117 yards and three touchdowns. John Carroll finished with 204 yards overall.

Zangaro not only had the big punt return, but he also racked up seven tackles as John Carroll continued its run of not allowing a team to score more than nine points in
a game. Mitch Krotz led the defense with 11 tackles. The Blue Streaks held Muskingum to 164 yards.

Reed Florence took his game to another level, breaking two school records, and No. 18 Wittenberg blasted Wooster 66-39 on Saturday night.

Florence threw six touchdown passes and ran for a score as well as he broke the records for touchdowns in a game and passing touchdowns in a game.

Jonathan Stoner and Desi Kirkman each caught two touchdown passes, with SToner racking up 97 receiving yards. Reed rushed for a season-best 80 yards and threw for 333 yards as Wittenberg improved to 5-1 overall and to 5-0 in the NCAC.

The Tigers rolled up 634 yards of total offense, with Jimmy Dehnke rushing for 118 yards. Sean Gary scored a pair of rushing touchdowns.

Victor Banjo helped anchor the defense as he blocked his fourth kick of the year and picked off a pass. Spencer Leno racked up 14 tackles and Kyle Sanning tallied nine tackles. Josh Montgomery added five tackles.

The 66 points scored by Wittenberg is the most since a 70-20 win over Hirman in 2007. The combined 105 points between the two teams is the most in their series since Wittenberg lost 68-54 to Wooster in overtime in 2004.

Inside the OAC

Ryan Malone proved to be an impact player for Ohio Northern on Saturday as the Polar Bears crushed Marietta 45-0.

Malone bolted 72 yards for a touchdown on a punt return and also caught a 44-yard scoring strike as he rolled up 140 yards of offense in the win.

The touchdown pass to Malone was one of three Patrick Angle threw on the day. Angle was 14-of-27 for 253 yards and Justin Magazine rushed for a career-high 115 yards and also scored a touchdown.

Devon Price had a big day as well as he caught seven passes for a career-best 152 yards. Price made one touchdown grab as well on a day when Ohio Northern (3-3, 2-3 OAC) up 489 yards of offense against the Pioneers (0-6, 0-5).

Dillon Kwiat paced the Polar Bears on defense as he racked up 15 tackles. Ohio Northern held Marietta to 170 yards. Tim Conner rushed for 118 of those yards.

Josiah Holt and Issac Reed III proved to be a formidable one-two punch for Baldwin Wallace in its 54-7 win over Wilmington on the road Saturday.

Holt rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns while Reed churned out 76 rushing yards and a pair of scores as the Yellow Jackets (4-2, 3-2) dominated the Quakers (0-6, 0-5).

Michael Slack threw for 70 yards and threw for a touchdown while running for a score.

Baldwin Wallace finished with 385 yards and held Wilmington to 220 yards behind an effort that resulted in a forced fumble, an interception and four sacks. Addison Carbone was one of four players with six tackles. Joe Kasper, Dan O'Brien and Matt Torgler also tallied six tackles apiece. Nelson Candelario racked up five tackles and picked off a pass.

Brandon Arehart was 17-of-36 for 169 yards and threw one touchdown pass to pace Wilmington. His 12-yard scoring strike to Tyler Tarnowski in the opening quarter gave the Quakers a 7-0 lead.

Inside the MIAA

Adrian

shook off a 3-0 halftime deficit and rallied for a 14-9 win over Trine as it stayed on track for another conference championship.

The Bulldogs scored all of their points in the third quarter. Aaron Tenney, hit Josh Delaney on a 5-yard scoring strike and Dae'Von Robinson ran 15 yards for a score as the Bulldogs (6-1, 3-0 MIAA) remained unbeaten in league play.

Tenney only threw for 98 yards and the Bulldogs finished with 234 yards of offense. Nathan Hartline caught seven passes for 84 yards.

Adrian came to life in the second half after managing only 43 yards in the opening half. The Bulldogs came up empty on all six of their third-down conversion chances in the first half.

Curtis Rhoden anchored the defense with 12 tackles as Adrian pushed its win streak to six games. Charles Fleck added seven tackles.

Tyler Keck's 45-yard field goal gave the Thunder (3-4, 0-3) its only points of the day.

Trine finished with 308 yards, with Andrew Dee throwing for 201 yards. Derek Posey tallied 10 tackles for Trine.

Hope only had possession of the football for a little over 18 minutes, but the lack of time mattered little as the Flying Dutchmen knocked off Alma 43-23 on Saturday.

Augie Mata returned a fumble 92 yards for a touchdown to cap off the big day for Hope, which is now 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the conference. Mata has scored in back-to-back games as he returned a blocked punt for a score last week against Olivet.

Hope forced turnovers on Alma's final three possessions and outscored the Scots 25-7 in the second half. The Flying Dutchmen picked off four passes in the win, including two by Cody Lindemulder, and Michael Atwell threw for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Shawn Jackson rushed for a pair of touchdowns.

Hope head coach Dean Kreps will go into this week's game against Kalamazoo looking for the 100th win of his career.

Alma, meanwhile, is still looking for a win. The Scots are 0-7 overall and 0-3 in the league. The Scots lost despite rolling up 456 yards and holding Hope to 206 yards.

The five turnover and 11 penalties hurt their cause. Jarrett Leister was 28-of-53 for 262 yards and two scores while Robert Gibson rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown. Erick Strickler and Frank Furnari tallied six tackles apiece.

Inside the NCAC

Moses Richardson rushed for 107 yards, his first 100-yard game of the season, and Oberlin rolled to a 24-0 win over Allegheny on Saturday.

It marks the fourth time Richardson has gone over 100 yards in his career while Lucas Poggiali rushed for a pair of touchdowns and completed 11 of his 13 passes for 99 yards.

Connor Jackson helped pave the way on defense. The former lacrosse standout at Oberlin picked off two passes and forced a fumble. He finished with six tackles for the Yeomen (2-4, 1-4 NCAC), who earned their first league win of the season.

Oberlin only allowed 239 yards. The Gators (0-7, 0-6) were led by Joe Nigro, who went 19-of-32 for 133 yards. Raysean Glenn had a good game defensively for Allegheny as he racked up 10 tackles.

DePauw is on a win streak as it knocked off 2012 conference co-champion Ohio Wesleyan 23-21 on the road Saturday afternoon thanks to Eric Mahn's clutch 37-yard field goal with 4.6 seconds remaining.

The dramatic kick was part of a frantic fourth quarter in which the Tigers (2-4, 2-3 NCAC) scored a touchdown and hit two field goals. DePauw has won two consecutive games.

The Tigers limited the Bishops (3-3, 2-3) to only 13 yards in the final quarter.

Nikko Sansone racked up a career-high 200 rushing yards. His total was the third-best in program history. He carried the ball 39 times and rushed for a touchdown.
Matt Hunt was 21-of-39 for 180 yards. He threw one touchdown pass while the Tigers were paced defensively by Mitch Dwenger, who racked up 13 tackles and forced
a fumble. Cody Baker came through with nine tackles and one sack.

Mason Espinosa threw for 285 yards and a touchdown. The Bishops managed 318 yards compared to 383 by the Tigers. Roemello Cook racked up 17 tackles to lead the Bishops on defense.

Inside the PAC

Geneva remained unbeaten at home as it knocked off St. Vincent 40-30 on Saturday. Rocco Colavecchia rushed for 40 yards and three touchdowns and Zack Hayward
threw for 402 yards and two scores on 30-of-47 passing.

Lemuel Fuller was Hayward's primary target in the win. Fuller caught 12 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. Geneva (4-2, 3-1 PAC) finished with 554 yards.

John Onufer and Dillonn Goodell led the defense with 13 and 10 tackles, respectively. Onufer also recofered a fumble while Goodell forced a fumble. The Tornadoes
allowed 407 yards.

Andy Borgen played well for St. Vincent (0-6, 0-4), throwing for 289 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 50 yards and one score. Dan Wirkowski and RLaRue-Holloman finished with nine tackles apiece.

Bethany was beaten on a last-second field goal by Waynesburg a year ago. The Bison didn't have to worry about that this time around as it blocked a potential game-winning attempt and then scored the game-winning touchdown eight plays later in a 27-20 win on Saturday.

Bethany marched 98 yards on the final drive, which ended with Eric Blinn catching a 68-yard touchdown pass from Matt Grimard. It was Blinn's second touchdown of the day and it helped lift Bethany to its first win over Waynesburg since 1996.

The Bison (3-3, 3-1 PAC) is on a three-game win streak, its longest since the 2010 season.

Blinn caught 11 passes for 154 yards while Grimard was 33-of-46 for 369 yards and four touchdowns. Grimard also rushed for 43 yards.

Bethany racked up 481 yards and Chris Burg paced the defense with seven takles. Larry Kpadehyea, Michael Howcott and Nick Greer finished with six tackles apiece.

Waynesburg (5-2, 3-2) finished with 301 yards. Carter Hill threw for 225 yards and a touchdown while Jerry Lawman rushed for 111 yards and a score. Josh Tolliver led the defense with nine tackles. Bryan Gary added eight tackles.

Quick Look at Tartans and Spartans

Carnegie Mellon was tested in a game against non-scholarship Division I opponent Mercer, and despite a career-best 152 passing yards from Andrew Hearon, the Tartans fell 54-21 on the road Saturday in Georgia.

The Tartans (3-4) finished with 311 yards but gave up 546 to the Bears. Carnegie Mellon fell behind 20-0 in the opening quarter and trailed 33-7 at halftime.

Tim Swanson caught a 76-yard touchdown pass and Grahm Schilling made two catches for 41 yards, including a 33-yard scoring strike.

Akwasi Brefo racked up 10 tackles while Liam McGrath, Eric Rolfes and Jack Butler came through with six tackles apiece. The Tartans tallied seven tackles for a loss.

Erik Olson turned in a stellar performance, throwing for 209 yards and two touchdowns, as he led Case Western Reserve to a 38-31 win over Puget Sound in the team's first ever game on the West Coast. The Spartans (2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak with the win in Washington.

Olson completed 27-of-34 passes and his 27 completions was a career-best total. Manny Sicre caught seven passes for 82 yards while Sean Lapcevic made six catches for 49 yards. Adam Hochman also caught a touchdown pass.

Kenny Riordan led the ground attack as he rushed for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Ricky Hanzlik churned out 61 yards and a rushed for a score as well.

Case finished with 387 yards while Puget Sound tallied 354 yards. Aaron Weisberg racked up eight tackles and Dayton Snyder tallied six tackles and a sack.

Notes: Ben Sizemore was 30-of-50 and threw for a career-high 354 yards in Otterbein's 35-17 loss to No. 12 Heidelberg in the Rhine River Cup. Sizemore threw two touchdown passes, including a 74-yard scoring strike to Brice Frentzel....Darrin Williams rushed for a season-best 122 yards and two touchdowns and helped Albion knock off Kalamazoo 31-21 on Saturday. Williams helped Albion finish with 339 yards and keep pace in the league title chase...Blake Calcei scored on a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to help Kenyon avoid a shutout loss to Wabash. Calcei has rushed for 100 yards and has five touchdowns on the season. He has also caught two touchdown passes...Thomas More running back Domonique Hayden rushed for 252 yards and four touchdowns in the Saints' 42-21 win over Thiel on Saturday. Hayden had two touchdown runs cover 50-plus yards (58 and 55) and he leads Divison III in rushing with 1,199 yards in six games.

Contact me: I always enjoy hearing from the readers of this column. Feel free to send me story ideas as well. You can also follow me on Twitter @BLester1993.

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Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Findlay, Ohio. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending the last 10 at The Courier in Findlay. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois and lives in Ottawa with his wife and daughter.

2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

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