/seasons/2012/contrib/201210276w1lgd

Wabash Defense Shines in 28-0 win at OWU

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For the second week in a row, the Wabash Little Giant defense blanked its opponent. The Little Giants held Ohio Wesleyan scoreless in a 28-0 victory.

The score was tied 0-0 at halftime, but the Wabash offense scored 4 second-half touchdowns in a game that will go a long way in deciding the 2012 NCAC Champion.

"The defense did a great job every possession," Coach Erik Raeburn said. "It started right off the bat where Ohio Wesleyan had the nice little drive to the goal line but our defense came up with the big stop on fourth and goal."

The Bishops were knocking on the door on the opening drive of the game but running back Scott Jenkins was stuffed by the Little Giant defense on a fourth-down plunge from the one-inch line.

Wabash's offense took the ball in the shadow of its own goal post but was unable to make much happen. Poor field position and not sustaining drives were common themes for the Little Giant offense in the first half. However, it broke the game open after halftime, led by Chase Belton and Tyler Holmes.

"We didn't make too many adjustments at half time," Holmes said. "We just stopped beating ourselves. Once again, our offensive line was dominating and we were able to put some explosive plays together."

Holmes one-upped himself to set a new personal best with 210 yards rushing a week after posting 189 last week. He added a touchdown on a career-long 67-yard scamper with 23 carries for the day.

After last week's 30-0 victory over Wooster, the Little Giant defense forced a shutout in back-to-back games for the first time since 1983. Today's achievement was not as easy as the score may suggest.

Ohio Wesleyan quarterback Mason Espinosa completed 52 passes of an astronomical 75 attempts. He gained 428 yards through the air without a single completion going for more than 25 yards. The dink-and-dunk offense moved the ball until it approached the red zone, where the passing windows were tighter and Wabash defenders made plays.

"Their offense was frustrating because the ball would be gone as soon as we came off the line," linebacker Cody Buresh said. "We went from cover 2 to cover 4 in the second half which put our outside linebacker on the slot receivers so that helped with the quick bubble routes."

Buresh was one of four Little Giants to record 10 or more tackles. Justin Woods led the unit with 16 stops, including 12 solos. Denzel Wilkins added 13, while Nate Scola finished with 10. Scola added a team-high 3 tackles for losses and made 1-1/2 sacks. Wabash sacked Espinosa 6 times throughout the game, adding to the negative rushing totals for the Bishops. OWU finished the contest with minus-22 yards rushing. Zach Breuckman made two sacks, with Tyler McCullen finishing with 1-1/2. Pat Clegg recorded the final sack.

After stalling out in Wabash territory twice in the first half, the Bishops tried to put points on the board with two field-goal attempts. The first try sailed wide right from 41 yards out while Buresh swatted the second.

The 0-0 deadlock ended in the third quarter when Belton lofted a deep pass down the right sideline to  Houston Hodges for an 82-yard strike. The starting corner and wide receiver would later add another touchdown catch --- this time for 26 yards --- and an interception.

"We called a couple of 'all goes' and I was able to get behind the defense," Hodges said. "Chase threw a great ball and I can't ask for much more."

Two series later, Belton found Sean Hildebrand on the same play, except this time down the left sideline for a 71-yard score and 14-0 lead.

"I trusted my line more in the second half," Belton said. "(James) Huddleston was a great player but I hung in the pocket longer and receivers did a great job getting open."

Huddleston, a two-time All-Conference defensive end for OWU, made his presence known with 2 sacks. Despite Huddleston's disruptiveness, Raeburn knew the offense had to loosen up the defense with big pass plays.

"We were leery of their pass rush but we felt like we were playing too conservative in that first half," he said. "Their defensive backs were creeping up so we took some shots down the field. Obviously Houston and Sean did a great job getting behind the defense."

Once the defense softened up, Holmes and the Little Giant offensive line went to work wearing down the Bishop's front seven. The group muscled open big holes on a 67-yard touchdown run by Holmes. On the next drive, Belton found Hodges again, this time on a 26-yard touchdown pass for the game's final score.

Wabash will still need some help to win a second-consecutive NCAC Championship. All the team can do is win its final two games, starting on Senior Day Saturday November 3rd against Oberlin College. The Little Giants will remain home the next week when they host Depauw in the 119th Monon Bell Classic.

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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Salve Regina 45, at Nichols 10
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Mount Ida 14, at Dean 7
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at Maine Maritime 34, Coast Guard 16
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Hamilton 28, at Bowdoin 7
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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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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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Cancelled
La Verne at Occidental
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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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Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
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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 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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at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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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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Final
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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Final
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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