/seasons/2011/contrib/20110907xxgwn8

Tigers Reach Landmark With Season-Opening 45-28 Victory Over Capital

More news about: Wittenberg

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — An achievement nearly 130 years in the making took slightly more than 21 hours to complete. The Wittenberg Tigers became the first NCAA Division III program to reach 700 all-time wins after completing a season-opening 45-28 victory over visiting Capital University in a game that was suspended overnight due to severe weather.

The Tigers held a 24-14 lead early in the third quarter on Saturday, but play was stopped when lightning was spotted in the distance. More than an hour later, the gathering storm clouds forced a postponement, and administrators from the two Central Ohio Lutheran-affiliated universities agreed to attempt to finish the game on Sunday.

When play resumed, the Wittenberg passing attack picked up right where it left off the night before. By game's end, senior Josh McKee (New Carlisle, Ohio/Tecumseh) had become the program's career receptions leader, senior Ben Zoeller (Lousville, Ky./St. Xavier) had set a new standard for passing yards in a game, senior Michael Cooper (Springfield, Ohio/South) had a career-best 193 receiving yards, including the second-longest touchdown reception in school history at 92 yards, and the Tigers had their first win over an Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) opponent since 2001.

The win broke a five-game losing streak against Capital and a six-game skid against OAC rivals, but most importantly it got the 2011 season off to a strong start while creating a new benchmark for NCAA Division II or III programs. Eighteen NCAA Division I programs (Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision) had previously surpassed 700 wins, but Wittenberg is the first in either Division II or III. Click here to read complete news release and watch additional video.

The game opened in hot, humid conditions, which apparently suited the Tigers as they ran out to a 21-0 lead by the early part of the second quarter. Sophomore Logan White (Springfield, Ohio/Graham) made the most of his first career carry, opening the scoring with a 13-yard run with 10:57 left in the first quarter. That was followed by Zoeller's 92-yard scoring strike to Cooper — second only to a 94-yard hook-up between Greg Cornett and Skip Ivery in 2002 — and a four-yard TD catch by McKee from sophomore Reed Florence (South Charleston, Ohio/Southeastern).

Capital rallied to within 10 points by halftime, before play was suspended with 13:54 on the clock in the third quarter. When the game resumed on Sunday, Zoeller and McKee hooked up on third-and-15 for a 40-yard touchdown pass, but Capital answered with a long drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal.

Wittenberg put the game out of reach with two more long scoring strikes from Zoeller, first to Cooper covering 52 yards and then to McKee covering 29 yards. In between, the Tiger defense came up big, stopping the Crusaders on a fourth-and-1 situation near midfield. Junior defensive tackle Justin Bartlett (Washington, Pa./McGuffey) got penetration and knocked the Capital ballcarrier backwards to force a critical turnover on downs.

The Tigers piled up 556 yards of total offense in the game, compared to 362 for Capital. The difference was Wittenberg's passing attack, starting with Zoeller's 456 yards through the air, which broke the record of 439 set by Ryan Holmes in 2004 at Wooster. McKee hauled in nine passes, giving him 181 in his career — three more than Patrick Williams between 2006 and 2009. McKee finished with 159 receiving yards, followed by Cooper with 193. In addition, sophomore Jonathan Stoner (Bowling Green, Ohio/Bowling Green) contributed four catches for 44 yards and sophomore Brendon Cunningham (Kettering, Ohio/Fairmont) chipped in with three receptions for 48 yards.

While the Tigers' re-built defense allowed 28 points, the unit performed well considering several short fields created by turnovers. Three players — including two making their first collegiate starts — led the Tigers with 11 tackles each: sophomore safety Mark Swope (Fairborn, Ohio/Fairborn), senior linebacker Zach Hurtt (Fort Thomas, Ky./Highlands) and sophomore linebacker Spencer Leno (Massillon, Ohio/Washington).

The Tigers now face a slightly shorter week than normal to prepare for North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) rival Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday, Sept. 10. Wittenberg will take a 21-game regular season win streak into that contest, which kicks off a 7 p.m. at historic Selby Stadium. In addition, the Tigers are riding a 13-game NCAC win streak after capturing the last two conference titles without a loss.

Oct. 13: All times Eastern
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Bridgewater State 24, at Mass-Dartmouth 22
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at UW-Whitewater 21, UW-La Crosse 14
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Oct. 14: All times Eastern
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Salve Regina 45, at Nichols 10
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Mount Ida 14, at Dean 7
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at Thomas More 59, Waynesburg 7
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at Maine Maritime 34, Coast Guard 16
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at Finlandia 27, Trinity Bible 21
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Hamilton 28, at Bowdoin 7
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at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
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at Olivet 47, Albion 26
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at Wesleyan 41, Bates 23
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Union 27, at Rochester 0
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Amherst 40, at Colby 7
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at Western New England 41, Endicott 14
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at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
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Final - OT
at Plymouth State 16, Framingham State 13
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at RPI 27, Ithaca 14
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Hobart 49, at Hartwick 27
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at Ferrum 34, LaGrange 20
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at Carnegie Mellon 42, Geneva 27
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Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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DePauw 26, at Denison 17
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at Trine 42, Kalamazoo 7
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at Washington and Lee 47, Guilford 26
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at Husson 49, Castleton 0
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Gallaudet 35, at Alfred State 19
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at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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Brevard 41, at Methodist 17
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at Lebanon Valley 31, Stevenson 24
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Buffalo State 24, at St. Lawrence 21
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at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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at Randolph-Macon 52, Emory and Henry 29
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at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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at Hampden-Sydney 58, Apprentice 28
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Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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at N.C. Wesleyan 45, Greensboro 0
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at Westminster (Pa.) 49, Grove City 27
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Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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at Westminster (Mo.) 56, Crown 15
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 29, Iowa Wesleyan 7
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at Knox 56, Grinnell 14
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at Widener 31, Lycoming 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 23, at Tufts 16
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at Mount St. Joseph 66, Earlham 7
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Ohio Northern 27, at John Carroll 20
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Baldwin Wallace 23, at Muskingum 20
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at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Rose-Hulman 44, at Manchester 13
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at Hanover 31, Bluffton 28
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Defiance 45, at Anderson 0
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at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Hiram 62, at Kenyon 56
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Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Williams 27, at Middlebury 26
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at Westfield State 33, Fitchburg State 21
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Marietta 43, at Wilmington 33
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at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Curry 40, at Becker 0
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TCNJ 20, at Rowan 14
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at SUNY-Maritime 51, Anna Maria 15
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Salisbury 28, at Montclair State 10
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at Huntingdon 28, Maryville (Tenn.) 16
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at Austin 33, Millsaps 19
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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at Washington U. 55, Buena Vista 20
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Alma 27, at Aurora 19
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at Rockford 29, Concordia-Chicago 14
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Wisconsin Lutheran 22, at Concordia (Wis.) 19
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at Lakeland 57, Benedictine 21
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at St. Norbert 10, Chicago 0
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Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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St. Olaf 22, at Augsburg 20
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Bethel 24, at Gustavus Adolphus 3
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St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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at Eureka 30, Greenville 19
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Centre 27, at Trinity (Texas) 21
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Dubuque 42, at Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Central 30, at Coe 19
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Lake Forest 56, at Cornell 28
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at Carthage 31, Elmhurst 8
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at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Millikin 28, at Augustana 27
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Ripon 52, at Beloit 28
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MacMurray 49, at Minnesota-Morris 13
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Macalester 21, at Lawrence 18
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at Monmouth 59, Illinois College 14
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at UW-Stevens Point 26, UW-Eau Claire 3
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Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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at Wooster 38, Oberlin 28
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Texas Lutheran 41, at East Texas Baptist 34
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at UW-Stout 21, UW-River Falls 16
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UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Sewanee 34, at Birmingham-Southern 13
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at Hope 22, Adrian 3
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Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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La Verne at Occidental
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Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
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at Cal Lutheran 42, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20
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at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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at Pacific 35, Puget Sound 27
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Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
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at Western Connecticut 28, Massachusetts Maritime 21
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at St. Scholastica 56, Martin Luther 21
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Final - 5OT
at St. John Fisher 39, Utica 36
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Final - OT
at Heidelberg 48, Otterbein 45
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at Shenandoah 38, Bridgewater 20
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Southwestern 60, at Belhaven 31
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Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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at Louisiana College 52, McMurry 34
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at Simpson 38, Luther 17
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at Chapman 45, Redlands 26
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Oct. 16: All times Eastern
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
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Oct. 14: All times Eastern
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at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
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Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
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Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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Oct. 16: All times Eastern
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
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