The Wittenberg Tigers sent their senior class out on a positive note, putting the finishing touches on the 2011 regular season with a 42-21 win over Wooster.
The Tigers finished 2011 with an overall record of 8-2, to go along with a North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) mark of 5-1. The win secured sole possession of second place for the Tigers after claiming back-to-back NCAC titles in 2009 and 2010.
Wooster lost for the third straight year to Wittenberg and has only beaten the Tigers three times since a four-game win streak between 1941 and 1949. The Scots, who have lost 17 straight games in Springfield since winning in 1949, finished the 2011 campaign with records of 4-6 overall and 3-3 in the NCAC.
The Tigers got off to a strong start, taking advantage of a short Wooster punt to score their first touchdown before senior safety Seth Parker (DeGraff, Ohio/Riverside) blocked a punt in the second quarter that was returned 10 yards for a touchdown by freshman Hunter Hendershot (Franklin, Ind./Franklin). But it was the execution of a picture-perfect two-minute drill at the end of the first half that opened up a tight game as the Tigers drove 54 yards in five plays covering just 1:03 on the clock.
A six-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Ben Zoeller (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier) to senior wide receiver Josh McKee (New Carlisle, Ohio/Tecumseh) capped that drive with just nine seconds left in the half. The momentum carried over to the second half as the Tiger offense rolled to three more touchdowns and even tossed in a two-point conversion as McKee, the holder on extra points, took the snap and rolled out to find senior linebacker Zach Hurtt (Fort Thomas, Ky./Highlands) on a short pass in the end zone.
If it was McKee's final appearance in the Red & White, it would be hard to imagine a better script. He broke the NCAC's career receiving record with 10 catches, running his total to 234. The previous mark of 224 was set by Wooster's Brandon Good.
Two of those receptions went for touchdowns to extend McKee's NCAC record total to 46. He finished with 199 yards through the air.
Zoeller had himself quite a day as well, throwing for 336 yards to move into second place on the Wittenberg career passing chart. In just two seasons as a starter (in addition to 10 appearances as a back-up in 2009), Zoeller finished with 5,770 passing yards, behind only Aaron Huffman's 6,446.
Wittenberg rolled up 512 yards of total offense in the game, compared to 319 for the Scots. The Tiger defense was paced by Hurtt with eight tackles to run his season total to 110 and his career total to 365, good for fifth on the program's all-time list. Sophomore linebacker Evan Killilea (Columbus, Ohio/DeSales) added seven tackles.
The Tigers remain a candidate for an at-large berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament, but the chances are slim. Wittenberg stood 10th in the most recent Great Lakes Regional rankings.