Story and photo courtesy of Oberlin Athletics
CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. – The Oberlin College football team achieved something it has not done since 1945 – beating the Little Giants of Wabash College, 31-16, on Saturday afternoon at Hollett Little Giant Stadium.
The victory marked just the second time in school history the Yeomen have beaten the Little Giants as Oberlin still trails the all-time series 2-14-1. It was the first time longtime Head Coach Jeff Ramsey has beaten a top-10 ranked team in the country. The last time Oberlin beat a nationally ranked opponent was on October 11, 2003 when Coach Ramsey led the Yeomen past then 13th-ranked Wooster 14-7.
The Yeomen played a near-perfect football game with their senior leadership shining through and proving to be the difference. Fifth-year senior quarterback Josh Mandel threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns. The senior wide receiver tandem of Robin Witjes and Dan Weintraub combined for 294 yards and four touchdowns. Witjes, who is leading the NCAC in receiving, showed why his one of the league’s best athletes as he also threw a 50-yard touchdown to David Kalgren.
Defensively, Clay Eaton added two more sacks to his nation-leading total as he now has 17 on the season. Fellow senior Dane Stritt also had a day with a 11 tackles and a sack.
The game started absolutely perfectly for the Yeomen as Wabash fumbled the opening kickoff, but Oberlin was unable to capitalize. However, it still proved to be omen of what was to come for the Yeomen.
Wabash would go 80-yards and score a touchdown on their first drive of the game, but from then on the Yeomen defense was simply dominant in keeping the Little Giants offense in check.
Oberlin would make it a 7-6 game with 7:38 left in the first half when Mandel hooked up with Weintraub from 12-yards out. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native also hauled in a 28-yard catch earlier in the drive to setup the score.
The Little Giants would tack on a field goal early in the second half, but the Yeomen would respond to take their first lead of the game on the ensuing possession – doing so in grand fashion. Mandel threw a swing pass out to Witjes and a key kick-out block by Moses Richardson allowed the senior to break free and run 66 yards for the score to give Oberlin a 12-10 lead with 7:02 left in the third quarter.
On their next offensive possession the Yeomen went into their bag of tricks as Associate Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Alan Estep dialed up a double-pass play that resulted in Witjes heaving a picture-perfect pass to a streaking Kalgren for a 50-yard scoring strike to make it a 19-10 Oberlin advantage.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the senior connection of Mandel and Weintraub would light up once again on a 47-yard hook-up for a touchdown to give Oberlin a 15-point cushion at 25-10 with 13:42 left to play.
However, with all of the offense in the game, one can make the argument that the play of the game actually came on defense following the Weintraub score. Wabash was able to work its way all the way down to the Yeomen-4 yard line, but on 4th-and-1 the Oberlin front stuffed Wabash running back Tyler Holmes for a loss of one yard.
The Wabash defense would respond by getting the ball back rather quickly. The Little Giants continued to fight all the way to the end as their offense would eventually find the endzone once more when quarterback Chase Belton threw a 15-yard TD to Houston Hoges. The two-point try was unsuccessful, and the ensuing on-side kick attempt was scooped up by Oberlin, which was now clinging to a 25-16 lead with 5:54 remaining.
With a two-possession lead the Yeomen did not take their foot off the gas. Just three plays after recovering the on-side kick, Mandel found Witjes deep down the seam and he made a Wabash defender miss en route to a 52-yard TD to make it 31-16 at the 5:17 mark.
Down the stretch the Yeomen defense would not let this one slip away as junior Zach Kisley along with seniors (David) Kalgren and Shawn Chrapczynski each recorded INT’s on the Little Giants’ last three possessions.
All in all the Yeomen defense recorded four turnovers, 70 total tackles, six tackles for a loss and four sacks.
The Yeomen, who improved to 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the NCAC, will conclude their season next Saturday at home against Wittenberg.