/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. 19: All times Eastern
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Martin Luther 21, at Northwestern (Minn.) 6
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at Stevenson 33, Wilkes 21
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at RPI 31, Hobart 24
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at MIT 13, Coast Guard 0
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Norwich 15, at Maine Maritime 7
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at Moravian 31, Juniata 14
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at Dean 53, Gallaudet 21
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Endicott 45, at Becker 13
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Frostburg State 24, at Montclair State 17
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SUNY-Maritime 68, at Castleton 41
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at Trinity (Texas) 28, Sewanee 14
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Johns Hopkins 51, at Gettysburg 14
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N.C. Wesleyan 29, at Brevard 21
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at Misericordia 37, FDU-Florham 33
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Union 29, at St. Lawrence 7
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at Ithaca 28, Rochester 3
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at Colby 23, Hamilton 21
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at Middlebury 35, Bates 34
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Trinity (Conn.) 48, at Bowdoin 6
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Springfield 23, at Catholic 11
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Amherst 33, at Wesleyan 3
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at Plymouth State 17, Massachusetts Maritime 14
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at Husson 54, Anna Maria 14
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TCNJ 13, at Kean 8
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Carnegie Mellon 41, at Thiel 7
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Salve Regina 30, at Curry 21
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King's 37, at Albright 26
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Trine 31, at Finlandia 0
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Susquehanna 41, at Ursinus 35
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Delaware Valley 52, at Lebanon Valley 7
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at Western New England 70, University of New England 13
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Franklin and Marshall 35, at Dickinson 14
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at Wittenberg 38, DePauw 23
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at Emory and Henry 52, Shenandoah 50
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at Wabash 32, Oberlin 7
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at Westminster (Pa.) 27, Washington and Jefferson 20
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at Hampden-Sydney 38, Guilford 35
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at Randolph-Macon 44, Bridgewater 41
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Cortland 56, at Hartwick 3
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at Denison 27, Ohio Wesleyan 10
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Waynesburg 12, at St. Vincent 10
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Salisbury 33, at Southern Virginia 0
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at Methodist 42, Greensboro 6
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Christopher Newport 39, at William Paterson 10
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Albion 49, at Adrian 42
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Thomas More 35, at St. Scholastica 0
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at Westminster (Mo.) 25, Minnesota-Morris 7
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Lake Forest 24, at Grinnell 0
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at Greenville 41, Crown 14
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at Merchant Marine 25, WPI 24
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at John Carroll 27, Marietta 24
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at Tufts 28, Williams 21
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Ohio Northern 49, at Capital 46
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Baldwin Wallace 35, at Wilmington 33
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at Mount Union 54, Heidelberg 0
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at Lycoming 52, Alvernia 0
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at Rose-Hulman 44, Anderson 6
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at Franklin 64, Earlham 20
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Hanover 48, at Manchester 14
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Mount St. Joseph 20, at Defiance 0
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at Utica 30, Alfred 22
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Maryville (Tenn.) 37, at LaGrange 17
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Framingham State 27, at Westfield State 2
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Morrisville State 35, at St. John Fisher 7
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at Muskingum 21, Otterbein 14
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at Berry 28, Millsaps 21
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at Muhlenberg 42, McDaniel 18
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at Rowan 28, Wesley 27
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at Wooster 28, Hiram 21
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Allegheny 54, at Kenyon 10
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at Nebraska Wesleyan 23, Luther 15
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Wheaton (Ill.) 20, at Augustana 3
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at Eureka 50, Benedictine 20
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 49, at Belhaven 0
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at Hardin-Simmons 58, Texas Lutheran 14
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Chicago 63, at Beloit 0
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at Concordia (Wis.) 45, Concordia-Chicago 34
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Aurora 25, at Rockford 7
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at Bethel 41, Concordia-Moorhead 13
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Lakeland 38, at Wisconsin Lutheran 12
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at St. John's 57, St. Olaf 7
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at Gustavus Adolphus 42, Augsburg 0
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Dubuque 38, at Buena Vista 7
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North Central (Ill.) 26, at Carthage 14
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at Ripon 58, Macalester 34
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at Monmouth 51, Cornell 0
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at Simpson 38, Loras 33
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at Knox 20, Illinois College 6
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UW-Stout 31, at UW-Stevens Point 27
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Millikin 14, at Elmhurst 13
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at MacMurray 20, Iowa Wesleyan 13
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UW-Eau Claire 40, at UW-Platteville 16
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at St. Thomas 68, Carleton 0
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at Mass-Dartmouth 41, Worcester State 27
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at Wartburg 47, Central 20
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at UW-Oshkosh 24, UW-La Crosse 13
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at UW-Whitewater 44, UW-River Falls 7
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at Birmingham-Southern 47, Austin 35
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Centre 41, at Rhodes 14
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at Carroll 23, North Park 0
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at Kalamazoo 17, Alma 10
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at Pacific Lutheran 33, Willamette 20
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at Brockport 65, Buffalo State 7
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at Averett 45, Huntingdon 17
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Washington and Lee 38, at Ferrum 35
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at Pacific 54, Lewis and Clark 22
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Redlands 35, at La Verne 17
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Whitworth 47, at Puget Sound 13
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Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 27, at Occidental 7
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Linfield 14, at George Fox 0
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at Hope 35, Olivet 30
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at Western Connecticut 50, Bridgewater State 48
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Case Western Reserve 27, at Geneva 14
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at Sul Ross State 28, Howard Payne 27
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East Texas Baptist 48, at Louisiana College 27
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Illinois Wesleyan 27, at Washington U. 21
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St. Norbert 46, at Lawrence 0
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at Pomona-Pitzer 42, Whittier 17
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Chapman 33, at Cal Lutheran 29
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Oct. 20: All times Eastern
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Frostburg State 24, at Montclair State 17
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at RPI 31, Hobart 24
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Trine 31, at Finlandia 0
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at Wittenberg 38, DePauw 23
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at Westminster (Pa.) 27, Washington and Jefferson 20
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Delaware Valley 52, at Lebanon Valley 7
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Johns Hopkins 51, at Gettysburg 14
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at Mount Union 54, Heidelberg 0
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at John Carroll 27, Marietta 24
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at Berry 28, Millsaps 21
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at Rowan 28, Wesley 27
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at Muhlenberg 42, McDaniel 18
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Wheaton (Ill.) 20, at Augustana 3
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Mary Hardin-Baylor 49, at Belhaven 0
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at St. John's 57, St. Olaf 7
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at Hardin-Simmons 58, Texas Lutheran 14
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North Central (Ill.) 26, at Carthage 14
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at St. Thomas 68, Carleton 0
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at UW-Oshkosh 24, UW-La Crosse 13
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at UW-Whitewater 44, UW-River Falls 7
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at Brockport 65, Buffalo State 7
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Whitworth 47, at Puget Sound 13
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Linfield 14, at George Fox 0
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Case Western Reserve 27, at Geneva 14
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Final
Illinois Wesleyan 27, at Washington U. 21
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