HIRAM, Ohio - The Wittenberg Tigers continued their dominant play against North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) opponents with a 49-9 victory over host Hiram.
It was Wittenberg's third straight lop-sided win against a league opponent. In improving to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the NCAC, the Tigers have outscored DePauw, Oberlin and Hiram the last three games by a combined total of 153-9.
The Terriers, who have never beaten Wittenberg in 14 all-time meetings, fell to 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the league.
After setting a school record with 716 yards of total offense a week earlier in the home-opening win over Oberlin, Wittenberg barely compiled half that number against Hiram. The Tigers repeatedly took advantage of short fields created by turnovers and short punts in a sloppy game played in a steady rain.
Just one of Wittenberg's seven scoring drives covered more than 53 yards. Three of them ended in touchdown receptions for senior wideout Desi Kirkman (Lima, Ohio/Central Catholic), who led both teams with six catches for 140 yards.
The other scoring reception was made by senior Brendon Cunningham (Kettering, Ohio/Fairmont), who was limited to season-lows of three catches for 11 yards. Senior quarterback Reed Florence (South Charleston, Ohio/Southeastern) was efficient as usual, completing 15-of-23 passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns.
On the ground, Wittenberg finished with 30 carries for 157 yards, but 50 of those came on the day's final attempt. Sophomore quarterback Zack Jenkins (Frostproof, Fla./Frostproof) scored the game's last touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 50-yard scoring run. Sophomore tailback Sean Gary (Indianapolis, Ind./Decatur Central) and Florence had the other two scoring runs in the game.
Defensively, a string of 10 straight scoreless quarters came to an end for Wittenberg in the third quarter but the Tigers still turned in another solid performance on that side of the ball. On the strength of seven sacks, Wittenberg held Hiram to -22 yards rushing and just 204 yards of total offense in the game.
The defensive star was unquestionably freshman defensive lineman Brady Vanover (Maineville, Ohio/Kings). He finished tied for the team lead with 11 tackles, including a whopping 4.5 for loss. He forced a fumble and recovered it as well on one of his two sacks.
Senior linebacker Spencer Leno (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) also contributed 11 tackles, including two for loss, and he was credited with a pass broken up. Senior linebacker Evan Killilea (Columbus, Ohio/DeSales) added 10 stops, including 3.5 for loss, an interception and 1.5 sacks.
Wittenberg returns to action Saturday, Oct. 12, with a Homecoming game against another NCAC rival, Denison. First kick is scheduled for 1 p.m. at historic Edwards-Maurer Field.