Stagg Bowl VII
Ithaca 14, Wittenberg 10
December 1979, in Phenix City, Ala.
Ithaca won its first national championship, defeating previously unbeaten Wittenberg 14-10 at the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Phenix City, Ala. Quarterback Doug Bencsko passed for one touchdown and ran for another, and the Bomber defense limited top-ranked Wittenberg to just 10 points.
It was the fourth appearance for both teams in the seven-year history of the Division III championship. Wittenberg won the first championship in 1973 and defeated Ithaca for the 1975 title. The Tigers lost to Baldwin-Wallace in the 1978 championship. Ithaca was the runner-up in 1974 and 1975 and lost to Wittenberg in the first round in 1978.
The two teams scored on consecutive possessions in the first half. After recovering an Ithaca fumble in the first quarter, Wittenberg drove 51 yards on 11 plays to score the first points. The Bombers tied the game on their next possession, a 15-play, 76-yard drive capped by Bencsko’s 11-yard touchdown pass to split end Jim Meyer. The Tigers moved ahead again on a field goal with five seconds remaining in the first half.
Wittenberg (11-1) lost two fumbles in the third quarter, and Ithaca (11-2) turned the second one into the game-winnrng touchdown. Wittenberg outgained Ithaca 309-217 but fumbled four times. The win marked the fourth time in five tries that the Bombers had beaten an undefeated opponent. All four Tiger fumbles occurred in Ithaca territory, and two were recovered by the Bombers inside the 15-yard line. Linebacker Harry Moss and nose guard Don Phillips each had 12 total tackles for Ithaca, and defensive back Tony Smith added 10. Linebacker John Laper and defensive tackle Jimmy Hoffman had nine tackles apiece.
Bob Ferrigno was the leading rusher for Ithaca with 62 yards on 19 carries, and Tracy King led Wittenberg rushers with 61 yards on 20 carries.
For 1979 playoff scores, scroll down.
Wittenberg 21, Millersville 14
Widener 29, Baldwin-Wallace 8
Carnegie Mellon 31, Minnesota-Morris 25
Ithaca 27, Dubuque 7
Wittenberg 17, Widener 14
Ithaca 15, Carnegie Mellon 6
Stagg Bowl VII
Ithaca 14, Wittenberg 10, at Phenix City, Ala.