By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – In a classic rivalry game that featured five times the game was tied and momentum shifts aplenty, Otterbein University made one more defensive stand to help defeat host Capital University by a final score of 49-42 at Bernlohr Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
A raucous crowd had every reason to stand in a game that came down to the wire. Capital came back from being down by two touchdowns to tie the game, 42-42, early in the fourth quarter. Otterbein went up by a score with 7:42 remaining when quarterback Logan Stepp connected with receiver Julian Lowe in the end zone from 22 yards out, but Capital had its chance to come back to tie or go ahead later in the quarter.
After both teams swapped defensive stands, Capital came up with a key fumble recovery with 3:29 to go. As Otterbein was ready to cross midfield, Stepp had the ball knocked loose on the play. Eric Stroski came up with the fumble and gave Cap another chance to score.
Dylan Schoonover began the drive with a tough 10-yard run, getting Cap fans on their feet as the team entered Otterbein territory. The Crusaders got as close as the 25-yard line with back-to-back completions to senior wide receiver Nick Waters, but the drive ended when quarterback Thomas Wibbeler was intercepted over the middle by Fred Hargrove for the second time. His return back into Capital territory on short time and no Capital timeouts remaining led to Otterbein taking a knee at the end of the game and a Cardinals victory.
Despite the loss, the game was filled with dramatic moments and incredible catches by both sides. Capital wide receiver David Barnett (Springfield, Ohio/Shawnee) made multiple drive-extending, acrobatic grabs. He finished with eight catches for 138 yards, two of which were good for touchdowns.
Barnett was only to be outdone by his own teammate, junior Dartavious Stanford (Zanesville, Ohio/Zanesville). Stanford caught a career-high three touchdown passes from Wibbeler, nine over the course of the game and totaled 140 yards receiving.
While leading a potent aerial attack that was good for just short of 400 yards, Thomas Wibbeler (Zanesville, Ohio/Zanesville) tied the Capital single game record for touchdown passes with six, set by Shawn Wheeler in 1999. Wibbeler finished the game with a healthy line of 32 completions on 45 attempts, but was picked off twice.
Though 49 points were scored by the Cardinals, the defense was not without a few key stops and playmakers. Freshman Kole Carter (Gallipolis, Ohio/Gallia Academy) had a career day with a team-leading 13 tackles which include 3.5 for a loss, two sacks, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
Junior linebacker Kane Murray (Warren, Ohio/Warren G. Harding) and senior defensive back Eric Stroski (Concord, Ohio/Riverside) each had nine tackles. Murray also chipped in a sack in the first quarter and another tackle in the backfield.
Capital and Otterbein took a 21-21 tie into halftime after both teams traded scores through the first two quarters and into the third. It was not until late in the third quarter that Otterbein grew its lead beyond seven points, but then Capital returned fire with 14 unanswered to set up for the dramatic finish.
A total of 971 offensive yards were put up on the stat sheet between both teams, but turnovers and penalties served as the great equalizer. Otterbein made three interceptions, including one in the red zone and one in the end zone. Capital also lost one fumble for a total of four turnovers. Conversely, Capital caused one turnover but also benefited from 15 Cardinal penalties that resulted in 146 penalty yards and six first downs. Capital was not without fault, committing 10 penalties for 76 yards. Two of those penalties stalled a late drive in the fourth quarter that would have otherwise put the Crusaders in prime scoring position.
Otterbein quarterback Logan Stepp had 180 rushing yards to go along with 182 passing yards. He totaled five touchdowns, three of which were through the air. Christian Johnson also had a 100-plus yard rushing day, totaling 117 yards and two scores on 16 touches.
Capital (1-3, 0-2 OAC) will play each of its next two contests on the road, beginning with a trip to Ada, Ohio to play Ohio Northern University next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.