The Ohio Wesleyan football team started fast, scoring 21 of the game’s first 28 points, but visiting Denison was clutch down the stretch as Pat Kramer connected on a 28-yard field goal with 23 seconds left to lift his team to a 38-37 win Friday night at Selby Stadium.
The game was tight throughout the second half, but the Bishops (0-2) used a quick 10-0 burst to take control late. After Zane Ries hooked up with Nick Soika for a 12-yard scoring strike midway through the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to a single point, 35-34, Gabe Philhower booted a 43-yard field goal on Ohio Wesleyan’s next possession to give it a 37-35 advantage with 5:21 to play.
It stayed that way until the Big Red’s final possession, which started in their own end with just 2:10 left. Over the course of the next 1:47, Denison marched 67 yards to the OWU 11.
Quarterback Drew Dawkins quickly hooked up with DJ Johnson and Peyton Vining for 19 and 12 yards, respectively, and scrambled for 11 yards to the OWU 36. He hit Vining again for 12 to the 19-yard line, then found Hunter Biddle for eight to the OWU 11 a few plays later.
The Big Red took a timeout facing a fourth-and-two, but everyone in the stadium knew they were setting up for a potential game-winning kick.
The Bishops took a couple timeouts to try and freeze Kramer, but it didn’t seem to bother him.
OWU got the ball at its own 25 with 23 seconds left after a fair catch on the ensuing kickoff. Ries hit Michael Craider on the first play of the drive for 13 yards to the 38, and a def. pass interference penalty on Denison moved it near midfield, but Ries was sacked on the next play. OWU was able to sneak in its final timeout with one second left, but the momentum was gone as an incompletion on the final play of the game cemented the outcome.
Dawkins completed 19 of his 29 passes for 235 yards and three TDs in the win. Vining was his top target, hauling in six grabs for 90 yards and two scores. Andrew Blanchard sparked the Big Red’s ground game, finishing with 127 yards on 23 carries.
Ries was solid for OWU, completing 18 of his 31 throws for 245 yards and three TDs — one each to Kenny Streb, Craider and Soika.
Junior post Cierra Joiner and freshman guard Lauren Denison combined for all 7 points during a first-quarter microburst that gave Ohio Wesleyan some breathing room, then teamed up for 13 points during a 21-4 second-quarter run that helped the Bishops break open a 78-39 win over Hiram on Thursday at Branch Rickey Arena.
Hiram had closed to within 5-4 when Tashauna Wright drove for a lay-in midway through the opening period.
Joiner hit a lay-in on Ohio Wesleyan’s next possession, then Denison buried a 3-pointer and connected on a jumper from the lane for a 12-4 Bishop lead with 2:06 remaining in the quarter.
Joiner and Denison buried back-to-back buckets early in the second quarter, then repeated that feat to stretch the margin to 28-11 at the 5:52 mark of the second period. A Denison 3-pointer extended the lead to 33-13, and freshman guard Kasey Schipfer and Joiner followed with hoops to close out the run and give Ohio Wesleyan a 37-13 lead with 3:40 to play in the half.
Haley Thompson and Taylor Valaitis scored to bring Hiram within 37-17 at the intermission, and Madison Branch opened the second half with a jumper, but that 18-point margin was as close as the Terriers would come.
Joiner led the Bishops with 17 points. Denison followed with 16 markers, and Schipfer finished with 15. Freshman post Kenzie Purkey grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds, and freshman guard Elizabeth Homan had a game-high 6 assists.
Wright led Hiram with 10 points.
OWU Sports Information contributed to this report.