Wittenberg Offense Hits Fifth Gear In Shootout Win Over Wooster
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – At the center of Wittenberg's highest offensive output against Wooster since 2004 was senior quarterback Reed Florence (South Charleston, Ohio/Southeastern) in a 66-39 on Saturday night at Edwards-Maurer Field.
The dual-threat player racked up a season-best 80 net yards on the ground and 333 yards through the air, totaling 413 offensive yards. It was his success at finding the end zone, however, that broke two single-game school records and pushed the Tigers to a 5-1 overall record and unbeaten 5-0 mark in the North Coast Athletic Conference.
Florence tossed six touchdown passes and ran in one more, etching his name above that of National College Football Hall of Famer Charlie Green, class of 1965, in the categories of touchdowns responsible for (7) and passing touchdowns (6), a record previously shared by Green, Aaron Huffman, Shaun Brown and Gene Laughman.
Senior wide receivers Jonathan Stoner (Bowling Green, Ohio/Bowling Green) and Desi Kirkman (Lima, Ohio/Central Catholic) were each the men at the other end of two of those touchdowns, while senior wideout Brendon Cunningham (Kettering, Ohio/Fairmont) and junior Zac Wilson (Eaton, Ohio/Eaton) each caught one. Stoner finished the game with 97 receiving yards, ahead of Cunningham with 90 and Wilson with 77.
Green still has the edge on Florence in a few categories. Particularly, Green threw 61 touchdowns in his career, while Florence moved into a tie for second-place with Huffman at 56.
For the game, Wittenberg posted 634 total offensive yards against Wooser's 386. Sophomore running back Jimmy Dehnke (Canton, Ohio/Massillon Jackson) led the ground attack with 118 net rushing yards on 16 carries, followed by Florence with 80 on 18 carries and sophomore Sean Gary (Indianapolis, Ind./Decatur Central) with two touchdowns and 69 yards in 12 attempts.
From the start it was apparent the night would feature plenty of ball movement. Cunningham returned the opening kickoff 47 yards to the 50-yardline, setting up a five-play, 50-yard touchdown drive that consumed only 1:24 and ended with the first of Gary's touchdowns, a seven-yard scamper. Cunningham would finish the game with 171 kickoff return yards on six runbacks.
From there, the Tigers and Scots were off to the races. By the end of the first quarter Wittenberg had built a 21-6 lead on another Gary rush and a 16-yard pass to Kirkman.
The second quarter saw Wooster score 19 points, but the Tigers returned fire with 24 of their own, including three on a field goal by sophomore Evan Grissom (Piqua, Ohio/Piqua), two touchdown catches for Stoner and Kirkman's endzone recovery of a Wittenberg fumble for a score.
The Tiger defense limited Wooster to 14 points across the final two quarters, while the offense kept humming with 21 on a Florence run, a 30-yard pass to Wilson and a three-yard strike to Cunningham.
For the defense, senior back Victor Banjo (Sugarland, Texas/Stephen F. Austin) blocked his fourth kick of the season when he stopped a point-after attempt in the second quarter and hauled in one interception. Senior linebacker Spencer Leno (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) posted a team season-high 14 tackles, including seven solo stops. Senior linebacker Kyle Sanning (Fairborn, Ohio/Tecumseh) and senior lineman Josh Montgomery (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) each broke through the line for a sack of nine yards, with Sanning finishing the game with nine tackles and Montgomery with five.
Wittenberg's 66 points marked the highest total since a 70-20 win versus Hiram on Nov. 10, 2007, and the combined 105 points is the most since Wittenberg and Wooster scored a total of 122 in Wittenberg's 68-54 overtime loss on Nov. 6, 2004.
The Tigers take to the road for their next engagement, a 2 p.m. contest at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, on Saturday, Oct. 26. Wooster, at 3-3 overall and 3-2 NCAC, hosts Denison next weekend.
John Strawn '07