The Muskingum University football team will host Otterbein University as part of Muskingum's 90th annual Homecoming celebration on Saturday in McConagha Stadium. Game time is slated for 1:30 p.m.
The game will be broadcast live on WMCO 90.7 FM and simulcast on the Muskingum Web Broadcasting Network located on the Muskingum athletic web site beginning with the pregame show at 1:15 p.m.
At halftime, Muskingum will honor its newest members of the Athletic Hall of Fame - Coach Donna Newberry (posthumous), Erica Hoyt (softball/'06), James Grandey (baseball/football/'99) and Kevin Woods (football/'87).
The Muskies (4-2, 3-2), who are off to their best start since 1996, will enter the game looking to rebound from two straight losses against Heidelberg University and John Carroll University. In the pair of defeats, Muskingum has been haunted by a combined eight turnovers.
Otterbein (1-5, 0-5) enters the outing riding a five-game losing streak, with four of the losses being decided by six points or less.
Muskingum's defense continues to be a dominant force on the field. The Muskies rank first in NCAA Division III in sacks per game (4.7 spg), 17th in rushing defense (86.5 rypg), 20th in scoring defense (13.5 ppg) and 23rd in total defense (262.5).
Overall, the Muskie defense has notched 47 tackles for loss, 28 sacks, seven interceptions and forced five fumbles en route to allowing just 13.5 points and 262.5 yards per game.
The hard-hitting unit is led by senior linebackers Alex Thomas and Ethan Wetzel.
Thomas leads the OAC in tackles averaging 12.2 stops per game. He also has logged eight tackles for loss, four sacks and forced one fumble.
Wetzel ranks ninth in the conference averaging 8.3 hits per game with four tackles for loss and one sack.
Both Thomas and Wetzel have been recognized for their outstanding play this season by being named OAC Defensive Players of the Week and being named to the D3Football.com National Team of the Week.
Also aiding the stout defense is senior safety Anthony Zarcone, who leads the league in passes defended with eight.
The Muskie offense, which is averaging 20 points and 306.8 yards per game, is led by sophomore quarterback Dalton Smith. Smith ranks fourth in the league in total offense averaging 211.7 yards per outing. He has thrown for 933 yards with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions and added 337 yards on 76 carries with five scores.
Senior running back Palmer Smith leads the rushing attack with 389 yards on 96 totes. He's averaging 4.1 yards per carry and ranks sixth in the league averaging 64.8 rushing yards per game. Also helping the ground game are sophomore running backs Shane Dotson and Anthony Frye who have rushed for combined three scores.
The receivers are paced by sophomore James Washington and senior Brad Polaski. Washington leads the Muskies with 20 catches for 356 yards and two touchdowns. Washington ranks seventh in the league averaging 59.3 receiving yards per outing. Polaksi has grabbed 14 receptions for 124 yards. Senior wide out Antowan Logan has caught 10 passes for 143 yards and one score.
Muskingum special teams are paced by junior punter Danny Snively and junior kick returner Andrew Davis. Snively ranks fourth in the OAC averaging 38 yards per punt with 11 punts inside the 20. Davis is one of the top kick returners in the OAC averaging 29.4 yards per return.
Senior quarterback Austin Schlosser leads the Otterbein offense which is averaging 382.3 yards and 27.2 points per game. The Cardinals rank 28th in Division III in passing offense averaging 274.2 yards per game. Schlosser, who leads the OAC in total offense, is averaging 263.5 passing yards and 11 rushing yards per contest. He has thrown for 1,581 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions and added 66 yards and two scores on the ground.
Joining Schlosser in the backfield is junior running back Cody Green. He ranks fourth in the league averaging 83.6 yards per game and is coming off a career-high 162-yard and two-touchdown performance against Capital University.
The receivers are led by seniors Trey Fairchild and Steve Kuzyk. Fairchild ranks second in the nation in all-purpose yards averaging 236.2 yards per contest. He's hauling in a league-best 127 receiving yards per game and is the top kick returner in the OAC. Fairchild has six receiving touchdowns. Kuzyk ranks fifth in the conference averaging 72.3 yards a game with six touchdowns.
The Cardinal defense, which is allowing 33.3 points and 424.8 yards per contest, is led by senior linebacker Shane Centers. Centers ranks second in the OAC averaging 12 tackles per game. He also has recorded eight tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Chad Pepper also aides the defensive effort with 6.2 hits per game.
Overall, Otterbein's defense has recorded 29 tackles for loss, four sacks, recovered four fumbles, forced four fumbles and notched one interception.
Otterbein's special teams are paced by junior punter Aaron Kingcade who leads the OAC with a 41.2 punting average. He has booted eight punts inside the 20 and has a league-best 74-yard punt.