Nearly surrendering a 30-3 lead made celebrating a 37-23 win at Oberlin tough for the Little Giants to swallow.
"We made mistakes at quarterback. We missed blocks on the O-line and we dropped balls at receiver," Coach Erik Raeburn said. "And, and we missed some protections at running back. It wasn't like there was just one guy out there who was going through the motions or didn't have the intensity or effort."
The win improves the 12th ranked Little Giants to 6-0 and hosting Denison next week. Oberlin dropped to 2-4 with its thin roster.
Things got off to a great start when Andrew Gibson forced a fumble after a pass completion to set the Little Giants up deep in Yeoman territory. The short drive was capped by Vann Hunt's 7-yard scoring run. The next Wabash score came late in the period and provided a real spark. Oberlin was deep in its own territory when quarterback Josh Mandel tried to float a short pass over the line. Luke Zinsmaster got his hands on the ball and scored from five yards out.
"They threw a screen pass and tried cutting me." The senior lineman said. "I got my hands up and he threw a perfect ball right to me. I looked at the ball and was kind of shocked. I hesitated and then proceeded to run it in for the touchdown, it was pretty crazy."
The teams combined for five second quarter points. Oberlin got a 24-yard Joe Cook field goal while Wabash picked up a safety on a Yeoman punt snap that went out of the end zone.
The second half opened with a bang when Wes Chamblee returned the opening kickoff 80 yards. It was his first scoring return on a kickoff this year. He has two punt returns for scores. John Holm got wide open over the middle for a 28-yard score to build the 30-3 margin.
Josh Mandel and Drew Mixler then worked over the top-rated Little Giant defense for three straight scores from 4, 11, and 13 yards to cut the margin to 30-23.
Wabash responded with its best drive of the day. The Little Giants moved the ball 70 yards on 12 plays with Hunt scoring again to ice the game.
"We put together a good drive when we needed one and that was encouraging," Raeburn said. "But for the game, we were pretty inconsistent on offense."
Wabash ran for a net 99 yards to Oberlin's 30. The Yeoman picked up 205 yards passing to Wabash's 132.
Hunt ran the ball 21 times for 91 yards. Chamblee caught six patches for 47 yards. Quarterback Chase Belton completed 12 of 25 passes with an interception and four sacks. He was credited with nine runs for a net loss of three yards.
Defensively, freshman Cody Buresh led Wabash with 13 tackles, including 10 solo stops. Denzel Wilkins, another freshman, had nine stops. C.J. Gum and Pat Clegg had eight and seven stops, respectively. Wabash did get to the Yeoman quarterback for seven sacks and 9 tackles for loss. Clay Eaton was outstanding for Oberlin with 9 tackles, 3 sacks, and 5 tackles for loss.
"This was especially tough considering our defense has been playing so well lately," Zinsmaster said. "We don't want to give up that many points. But we knew coming in it was our first time on grass. We just didn't come out and play the way we wanted to play. We knew we were the better team. We just didn't play like it."
The Little Giants will get the chance to bounce back hosting Denison Saturday.