/seasons/2012/contrib/20121117sxur3j

Wittenberg wins with its largest-ever playoff comeback

More news about: Wittenberg

The Wittenberg Tigers put together the largest comeback in its illustrious NCAA Division III playoffs history, rallying from a 22-point first-half deficit to stun Heidelberg 52-38 in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.

Much like other memorable rallies – including a 1988 win at Dayton, a 2001 win at Hardin-Simmons and a 2002 victory at Hanover – the Tigers did the job on the road. Wittenberg (10-1) advanced to a second round game against Hobart, and the Tigers also removed a monkey from the program's collective back with its first postseason win over an Ohio Athletic Conference foe in eight tries, dating to 1978.

"We've had some great comeback wins in the playoffs, and this one will definitely rank right up there with the best of them," said Wittenberg Head Coach Joe Fincham. "We kept telling our guys that this was going to be a 15-round fight and they had to keep their composure. We just felt that if we could keep running plays, we would find our stride."

Heidelberg, which was making its first appearance in the Division III NCAA Tournament since its inception in 1973, sprinted out to a 21-3 lead less than 12 minutes into the game and held a 31-13 advantage after a field goal on the final play of the first half. However, Wittenberg gained some momentum on the final series after Evan Killilea made the Tigers' first tackle for loss on third down.

To that point, Wittenberg's defense had given up big play after big play. No one knew at the time, but the pendulum had swung, setting the stage for a second half dominated by the Tigers.

"They pushed us around early in the ball game," Fincham said. "It's a credit to (defensive coordinator) Andy Waddle and the coaches on that side of the ball. They kept encouraging the guys and kept making adjustments, and we got a lot of key stops. The next thing you know, Jed's a millionaire, right?"

Wittenberg had some success offensively over the opening 30 minutes as well, starting with a pair of field goals by Sean Williams. Trailing 28-6 late in the second quarter, Fincham elected not to kick another field goal and his team responded, converting on fourth down en route to the first of quarterback Reed Florence's five touchdown passes.

The Tiger offense exploded in the second half, scoring 32 unanswered points. After a Williams field goal, Florence tossed two touchdown passes to Brendon Cunningham, who had three in the game to go along with a two-point conversion, and one each to Jonathan Stoner and Desi Kirkman. Forence and Kirkman also connected on a third-and-33 to keep a scoring drive alive on the first play of the fourth quarter with the Tigers trailing 31-23.

Wittenberg's defense held Heidelberg to 138 yards and one touchdown in the second half, in addition to forcing four turnovers, capped by an interception that Heath Eby returned for a score inside the final minute.

Florence finished with 346 yards passing and 66 yards rushing. Kirkman led the receivers with 10 catches for 104 yards, while Cunningham added eight receptions for 94 yards.

Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
Video Video Box Score Recap
Oct. 21: All times Eastern
Final
at Framingham State 29, Westfield State 14
Video Box Score
Final
Moravian 20, at Juniata 17
Video Box Score
Final
at Salve Regina 41, Endicott 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Thomas More 63, St. Vincent 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Union 28, Hobart 23
Video
Final
at Hamilton 27, Colby 24
Video Box Score
Final
at Christopher Newport 27, William Paterson 19
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Ithaca 35, St. John Fisher 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Allegheny 44, Kenyon 35
Video Box Score
Final
SUNY-Maritime 21, at Mount Ida 13
Video Box Score
Final
Middlebury 43, at Bates 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Springfield 68, Catholic 20
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Amherst 21, Wesleyan 17
Video Box Score
Final
at Trinity (Conn.) 63, Bowdoin 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Husson 48, at Gallaudet 21
Box Score
Final
Wabash 35, at Oberlin 21
Video Box Score
Final
at Utica 34, Buffalo State 12
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Ohio Northern 7, at Muskingum 6
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Frostburg State 62, Montclair State 3
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Wesley 34, Rowan 3
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Stevenson 26, Albright 23
Video Box Score
Final
Wittenberg 52, at DePauw 6
Video Box Score Video
Final
at Albion 31, Alma 28
Video Box Score
Final
at Guilford 45, Shenandoah 20
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Plymouth State 40, at Massachusetts Maritime 14
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Wooster 58, at Hiram 25
Video Box Score
Final
Washington and Lee 36, at Hampden-Sydney 6
Video Box Score
Final
at Anna Maria 36, Alfred State 34
Box Score
Final
Bridgewater 31, at Emory and Henry 23
Video Box Score
Final
at FDU-Florham 49, Wilkes 31
Video Box Score
Final
Lebanon Valley 17, at Misericordia 0
Video
Final
at St. Lawrence 36, Rochester 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
RPI 30, at Alfred 15
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Curry 46, Nichols 16
Video Box Score
Final
at Salisbury 42, Southern Virginia 0
Video Box Score
Final
Ferrum 27, at Brevard 24
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Randolph-Macon 63, at Apprentice 14
Box Score
Final
at Susquehanna 21, Ursinus 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Cortland 34, at Morrisville State 20
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Trine 50, Hope 14
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Trinity (Texas) 27, at Sewanee 21
Video Box Score
Final
Wartburg 41, at Luther 16
Video Box Score
Final
at Franklin and Marshall 56, Dickinson 0
Video Video Box Score
Final
Tufts 21, at Williams 13
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Mount Union 66, at Wilmington 7
Video Box Score
Final
MIT 30, at Coast Guard 21
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Norwich 24, Maine Maritime 22
Video Box Score
Final
at Marietta 44, Heidelberg 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Franklin 29, at Rose-Hulman 22
Video Video Box Score Photos
Final
John Carroll 48, at Capital 21
Video Box Score
Final
at Manchester 28, Bluffton 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Mount St. Joseph 71, at Anderson 27
Video Box Score
Final
UW-Whitewater 20, at UW-River Falls 7
Video
Final
Kean 26, at TCNJ 3
Video Box Score
Final
at LaGrange 59, Greensboro 10
Video Box Score
Final
at Worcester State 45, Mass-Dartmouth 40
Video Box Score
Final
Muhlenberg 40, at McDaniel 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Western New England 45, at Becker 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Maryville (Tenn.) 35, Methodist 14
Video Box Score
Final
Adrian 36, at Kalamazoo 22
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Denison 31, at Ohio Wesleyan 20
Video Box Score Photos
Final - OT
at Washington and Jefferson 34, Westminster (Pa.) 33
Video Box Score Live stats Audio Audio
Final
Berry 37, at Millsaps 22
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Benedictine 43, Olivet 37
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Birmingham-Southern 31, at Austin 24
Video Box Score
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Belhaven 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Stout 23, UW-Stevens Point 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Eureka 37, at MacMurray 20
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 13, Carthage 10
Video Box Score
Final
Nebraska Wesleyan 14, at Buena Vista 13
Video Box Score
Final
Lakeland 48, at Wisconsin Lutheran 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Aurora 28, Rockford 21
Video Box Score
Final
at Concordia-Chicago 37, Concordia (Wis.) 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Olaf 29, Carleton 26
Video
Final
at St. John's 41, Gustavus Adolphus 17
Video Box Score
Final
at Concordia-Moorhead 42, Augsburg 20
Video Box Score Photos
Final
St. Thomas 84, at Hamline 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Westminster (Mo.) 24, at Greenville 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Loras 44, Coe 38
Video Box Score
Final
Monmouth 61, at Cornell 10
Video
Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 56, at North Park 0
Box Score Recap
Final
Northwestern (Minn.) 30, at Martin Luther 14
Video Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 33, at Texas Lutheran 30
Box Score Photos
Final
at Lake Forest 70, Grinnell 6
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Millikin 56, Carroll 35
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Macalester 47, Ripon 31
Video Box Score
Final
at St. Norbert 38, Lawrence 6
Video Box Score Recap
Final
St. Scholastica 49, at Crown 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Iowa Wesleyan 24, Minnesota-Morris 17
Box Score
Final
UW-Platteville 34, at UW-Eau Claire 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at WPI 41, Merchant Marine 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at Centre 42, Rhodes 35
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Hanover 49, at Earlham 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Chicago 55, Beloit 12
Box Score Photos
Final
UW-Oshkosh 42, at UW-La Crosse 28
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Dubuque 28, Simpson 27
Video Box Score Live stats Audio
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 54, Augustana 2
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at East Texas Baptist 68, Louisiana College 35
Box Score Recap
Final
at Brockport 45, Hartwick 0
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Western Connecticut 27, at Bridgewater State 20
Box Score Recap
Final
Chapman 38, at La Verne 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Pacific 17, at Lewis and Clark 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Pacific Lutheran 27, at Willamette 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Whitworth 38, Puget Sound 23
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Redlands 42, at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 25
Video Box Score
Final
at Linfield 12, George Fox 6
Video Box Score
Final
Sul Ross State 52, at Howard Payne 15
Video
Final
at Castleton 17, Dean 14
Video Box Score
Final
N.C. Wesleyan 21, at Averett 15
Video Box Score
Final
at Otterbein 37, Baldwin Wallace 29
Box Score
Final
Case Western Reserve 45, at Geneva 7
Video Box Score
Final
Carnegie Mellon 42, at Thiel 10
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois College 23, Knox 13
Video Box Score
Final
at Cal Lutheran 60, Whittier 34
Video Box Score
Cancelled
Occidental at Pomona-Pitzer
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
Video Video Box Score Recap
Oct. 21: All times Eastern
Final
at Wesley 34, Rowan 3
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Frostburg State 62, Montclair State 3
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Wittenberg 52, at DePauw 6
Video Box Score Video
Final
at Springfield 68, Catholic 20
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
Wartburg 41, at Luther 16
Video Box Score
Final
Mount Union 66, at Wilmington 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Marietta 44, Heidelberg 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Washington and Jefferson 34, Westminster (Pa.) 33
Video Box Score Live stats Audio Audio
Final
Hardin-Simmons 33, at Texas Lutheran 30
Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Belhaven 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
St. Thomas 84, at Hamline 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. John's 41, Gustavus Adolphus 17
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 13, Carthage 10
Video Box Score
Final
at Concordia-Moorhead 42, Augsburg 20
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Berry 37, at Millsaps 22
Video Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Platteville 34, at UW-Eau Claire 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
UW-Oshkosh 42, at UW-La Crosse 28
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 54, Augustana 2
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Brockport 45, Hartwick 0
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Linfield 12, George Fox 6
Video Box Score
Final
Case Western Reserve 45, at Geneva 7
Video Box Score