Junior quarterback Dominick Orsini (Massillon/Archbishop Hoban) posted scoring runs of 6 and 9 yards to tie the game at 14-14, but 17th-ranked Wittenberg took the lead in the second half and went on to record a 42-21 win over Ohio Wesleyan in the North Coast Athletic Conference opener for both teams on Saturday night in Springfield.
The Tigers opened the evening’s scoring with an 84-yard pass play from Zack Jenkins to Corey Stump, and on their following possession, the Jenkins-to-Stump combination clicked again, this time for 19 yards and a score to give Wittenberg a 14-0 lead.
Ohio Wesleyan answered with a scoring march on its next possession, with Orsini picking up 8 yards and a first down on second-and-5 from the Bishop 34, then finding junior wide receiver Adrian Bishop (San Diego, Calif./Madison) for 26 yards and a first down at the Tiger 18-yard line. After a pass interference penalty moved the ball to the Wittenberg 6, Orsini scored on the next play to bring the Bishops within 14-7 with 6:01 left in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, the Bishops took over at midfield and picked up a first down on a 10-yard Orsini completion to sophomore running back TraVon Wilkes (Akron/Buchtel), then got another first down when Orsini hit junior quarterback Cheyne Lacanaria (Farmington, Mich./Brother Rice) for 7 yards on third-and-2 from the Tiger 16. On second-and-goal, it was Orsini covering the 9 yards to paydirt, and junior wide receiver Tim Shadoan (Dublin/Scioto) followed with the point-after to even the game at 14-14 with 9:22 left in the first half.
The Bishop defense preserved the tie, with sophomore safety Ben Rubel (Toledo/St. John’s) picking off a Jenkins pass and returning it 28 yards to end Wittenberg’s ensuing possession. Senior cornerback Roemello Cook (Akron/Buchtel) followed with an interception in the Ohio Wesleyan end zone after the Tigers had driven to a first down at the Bishop 9-yard line.
Wittenberg broke the tie in the third quarter, with Jenkins moving the Tigers through the air, connecting with Stump for gains of 18 and 20 yards and with Luke Landis for a 12-yard pickup before Jenkins covered the final 2 yards himself to give the hosts a 21-14 lead.
The Tigers followed with an 81-yard, 16-play drive that saw Jenkins find Zach Culvahouse for 22 yards on a third-and-16 play from midfield and Jenkins connect with Landis for 6 yards on a third-and-5 call from the Ohio Wesleyan 23. On first-and-goal from the Ohio Wesleyan 5, Jenkins lost the ball at the Bishop 11-yard line but recovered the fumble, and on the next play, he found Stump for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Jenkins would add touchdown passes of 30 yards to Stump and 10 yards to Culvahouse.
Ohio Wesleyan was deep in its own territory during the fourth quarter after a Tiger punt was downed at the Ohio Wesleyan 3-yard line and the Bishops were flagged for a false start back to the 1-yard line, but a 49-yard strike from Orsini to Bishop moved the ball to midfield, and connections from Orsini to Lacanaria for 13 yards and Orsini to junior wide receiver Eugene Coleman (Northfield/Nordonia) for 17 yards put the ball into the red zone. Orsini found Lacanaria again, this time for 15 yards to the 4-yard line, and then it was Orsini to Coleman for the last 4 yards to complete the 97-yard drive.
Orsini completed 24 of 47 passes for 282 yards, and ran for a team-high 25 yards on 11 carries. Lacanaria led the Bishops with 8 receptions for 86 yards and Shadoan made 6 catches for 34 yards.
Defensive leaders for the Bishops included junior end Gary Brodek (Parma/Valley Forge), who had 15 tackles, including one for loss; junior linebacker Deion Centeno (San Diego, Calif./Madison), who made 15 stops, forced a fumble, and broke up a pass; and junior linebacker Keaton Leppla (Millersburg/West Holmes), who had 14 tackles.
Jenkins completed 31 of 40 throws for 434 yards and 5 touchdowns. Stump caught 14 passes for 234 yards and 4 scores, and Culvahouse made 10 catches for 126 yards. Jimmy Dehnke led the Tigers with 59 yards on 14 carries. Dustin Holmes and Jesse Kolinac had 7 tackles apiece.
Volleyball: Ohio Wesleyan 3, Hanover 1; Ohio Wesleyan 3, John Carroll 2.
Men’s Cross Country: Ohio Wesleyan 1st at Otterbein Invitational.
Women’s Cross Country: Ohio Wesleyan 3rd at Otterbein Invitational.
Field Hockey: Denison 2, Ohio Wesleyan 0.
OWU Sports Information contributed to this report.