By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Despite putting up nearly 400 yards of total offense and Cory Heeter tallying more than 170 total yards, Capital University Football was unable to overcome the weather or its opponent on Opening Day. Mount St. Joseph University cashed in on four Capital turnovers to deliver the Crusaders a 38-21 loss at Purmort Field at Bernlohr Stadium on a very wet and rainy Saturday afternoon.
Capital (0-1) delivered the early pressure when senior linebacker Derek Eibon (Amherst, Ohio/Amherst Steele) jumped the route on Chaiten Tomlin's mid-range pass for an interception. The Purple and White were unable to convert on the excellent field position, going three-and-out on the ensuing series.
Freshman punter Avery Wirt (Delaware, Ohio/Findlay) pinned the Lions deep in their own territory on his first collegiate punt, but The Mount traversed 92 yards over 10 plays and 3:59, ending it with an eight-yard touchdown run by Tomlin to take the lead, 7-0.
The defense answered on The Mount's next series, forcing a punt after just three plays. This time, Capital did respond with a touchdown to tie the game. Stationed on the Lions' nine-yard line, Wibbeler lobbed a pass to the far corner of the end zone where junior Connor McCloud made the scoring catch while falling to the ground. Freshman Blake Middleton (Miamisburg, Ohio/Miamisburg) hit the first point-after touchdown attempt of his collegiate career to tie it at seven, each.
Capital opened up the second half by taking its first and only lead of the contest. Cap started the drive on their own 14-yard line but a 50-yard touchdown pass to newcomer Dartavious Stanford (Zanesville, Ohio/Zanesville) ended the drive on a positive note. Stanford found a hole in the coverage when Wibbeler lofted a pass that landed in the junior's hands. Stanford took it the rest of the way, untouched.
The Mount crept closer with a 37-yard field goal, but this served as the start of a 10-point swing. On the first play of Capital's next possession, sophomore wide receiver David Barnett made a catch of the middle of the field but had the ball jarred loose by Tavon Robertson. Mount St. Joseph jumped on the ball, and six plays later scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Tomlin to Michael Williamson. The Mount took that 17-14 lead into the half.
Capital's offense hit a bump after going three-and-out on each of its first two possessions of the second half. The Lions took advantage of a short punt by Wirt by going 45 yards in just four plays for another touchdown.
The Mount was granted another short field opportunity when a high snap created a delay on Wirt's next punt, leading to it being blocked. On the next offensive play by Mount St. Joseph, Tomlin connected with Kendall Sprowl for a 17-yard touchdown pass to extend its lead to 31-14.
Senior running back Cory Heeter (Circleville, Ohio) quietly collected yards in large numbers over the course of the game, and tacked on another 22 yards on a short swing pass late in the fourth quarter. That reception was one of a team-leading eight on the day, and set up Capital's next trip into the end zone. Wibbeler looked left and hit junior Eddie Preciado (Downey, Calif./Downey) on a fade route in the back of the end zone for six more. Middleton stayed perfect on extra point attempts with his third of the day.
Heeter went on to finish with 171 yards of total offense, tallying 85 rushing yards on 16 carries and 86 yards on eight catches.
Wibbeler finished the day with 261 yards through the air by going 21-for-42 with his arm, but was intercepted three times and twice while deep in Mount St. Joseph territory.
On the defensive side, junior linebacker Kane Murray (Warren, Ohio/Warren G. Harding) led the Crusaders with 14 total tackles. Eibon tallied 11 in addition to his pick.
After return to the team following a two-year hiatus, defensive end James Zamor (Cape Coral, Fla./Cape Coral) made a big impact with eight tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Capital will recollect and use its bye week to prepare for Muskingum University. The Muskies and Crusaders will meet on Purmort Field at Bernlohr Stadium on Sept. 16 for its annual night game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.