Tigers Reign Victorious on Homecoming Weekend
Saturday proved rough for the Hiram Terriers as Wittenberg found themselves with a Homecoming victory, 47-28.
The victory bell was rung for the third time at home this season after defeating the Terriers with a powerful Tiger offense and defense. This year marked Wittenberg’s sixth straight Homecoming win, last falling to Wabash in 2012, 27-24.
The Tigers were the first to bust into the endzone in the game’s opening drive after an eight-yard run by Sam Kayser, ‘21. From there, the flood gates opened as Hiram fumbled on the subsequent kickoff, and Liam Duncan, ‘19, recovered. Two plays and 40 seconds later, Jake Kennedy, ‘19, connected with Jeff Tiffner, ‘19, on a 19-yard pass to bring the score to 14-0.
In their 19th meeting on the turf, the Tigers keep their triumphant winning-streak alive with the expected win over Hiram. The series now stands 19-0 in Wittenberg’s favor. Since 1920, the Tigers have outscored the Terriers 1,061-132.
Leading the offense, Kennedy threw for 263 yards, taking responsibility for three touchdowns through the air. Completing 14 of 19 passes, his longest pass was to Duncan for 60 yards. Duncan only made two catches, but averaged 51.5 yards per pass.
A 12-yard pass from Kennedy to Tiffner seemed obsolete in the grand scheme of the afternoon, however it was the pass giving Kennedy an 11- yard edge on the school record for passing yards in a career. Following the game, Kennedy has thrown 6,563 yards for the red and white in his career.
The Bellefontaine, Ohio native now holds five career school records halfway through the season, also including pass attempts per game (25.29), pass completions (488), pass completions per game (15.74) and passing yards per game (211.71). The senior is expected to claim several more by the time he hangs up his helmet for good, including four passes until the pass attempts record.
The senior also currently leads the NCAC in passing, 1,431 yards, and touchdowns thrown, 19.
Kennedy’s favorite receiver of the afternoon was Bryce Bailey, ‘19, connecting four times for 62 yards, finding the endzone twice. Kennedy tossed the ball into seven different hands in the receiving core through the game.
Four Tigers rounded out the Tiger backfield, accumulating 221 yards on the ground. Jaheem Washington, ‘20, takes credit for 122 of the team’s 243 net rushing yards, tacking on a touchdown to his name.
Troy Clay, ‘21, a transfer student, found himself in the endzone for his first time donning the red and white after punching in twice, both from the one-yard line, on Saturday.
The defensive squad squashed the Terrier offense through the first half, holding Hiram to one touchdown. Three touchdowns were allowed in the fourth quarter as the backup squads came to the line.
Jordan Burkey, ‘21, grabbed his first interception of his Tiger career, ending Hiram’s first drive of the second quarter and giving Wittenberg a 34-yard head start after the return for their own offensive drive. Burkey got his hands on another ball, almost making another interception late in the first half.
Seven defensive players accumulated 46 of the 89 Tiger tackles. Michael Ford, ‘19, and Terrance Crowe, ‘19, led the way with eight tackles apiece. Troy Jones, ‘20, made moves to break up three Hiram passes, nearly making an interception himself.
Halfway through the season, Wittenberg now solely remains atop the standings with Saturday’s win. Denison Big Red took down Wabash 34-10, giving the Tigers a helpful nod to be the only undefeated NCAC team.
Despite the strong start, the Tigers are not the only Division III football team to be undefeated. All but two of the top-15 teams ranked by the American Football Coaches Association also sit undefeated, led by Ohio’s Mount Union and Texas’ Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Wittenberg looks to continue their winning ways over Fall Break on the road Oct. 13 at Allegheny. The Gators last defeated the Tigers 10 years ago on their home turf, 30-27. The 2018 match up will take place on Fuhrer Field; kickoff is set for 1 PM.