Crusaders Fall Short in Comeback Bid

Pictured: Mike Smith (photo credit: Jamie Gaffney)
Pictured: Mike Smith (photo credit: Jamie Gaffney)

By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director

WILMINGTON, Ohio –  Despite putting together its best offensive game of the season and multiple playmakers stepping up to erase a 21-point deficit, the Capital University football team was unable to complete its comeback against the Wilmington College Fightin' Quakers on Saturday afternoon at Williams Stadium. The Crusaders came back to make for a seven-point contest with time to spare in the fourth, but the Quakers held on to preserve a 41-34 victory.

Final statistics

THE SETUP

  • Capital's offense struggled and had three straight possessions in which they went three-and-out. On all three possessions, Wilmington scored touchdowns to build an early lead.
  • Wilmington's first score wrapped up a six-play, 76-yard drive that ended in a 40-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Barrett to Itika Wynn Jr.
  • The Quakers' Gina Hinton Jr. broke off a 30-yard touchdown run on its second drive, which led into a second Kyle Barrett touchdown pass, this time to Deshawn Maddox from 17 yards out to build the score to 21-0.
  • Capital and Wilmington then traded touchdowns in three successive possessions, but the run of offensive success built momentum that the Crusaders were in need of to give them a chance at a win.
  • Freshman quarterback Justin McClelland (Bidwell, Ohio/Gallia Academy) and sophomore wide receiver Mike Smith (Grove City, Ohio / Upper Arlington) connected to complete a pair of individual firsts and to get Cap on the board for the first time in the game. McClelland threw the first touchdown pass of his career to Smith on a 50-yard streak route in which he beat his defender. With no safety help, Smith sprinted into the end zone, which notched his first career touchdown reception.
  • Wilmington was quick to respond with a drive that lasted just over two minutes and ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Barrett to Luke Richardson. Cap's Malcolm Wiggins blocked the point-after touchdown attempt.
  • Down 27-7, Capital drove back down the field and put six more points on the scoreboard when junior Mitchell Machock (Orlando, Fla./Cocoa Beach) found senior running back Evin Butler (Dayton, Ohio/Dayton Christian) in the flat for an eight-yard pitch and catch.
  • Wynn caught a second touchdown pass on the following WC drive to make the score 34-14 and that score would hold heading into the half, but the Crusaders were far from finished.
  • Midway through the third quarter, Mike Smith found the end zone for the second time in the came when he and McClelland linked up again, this time from 13 yards out.
  • Barrett threw his fifth and final touchdown pass of the game with 1:31 remaining in the third quarter when he found Niko Jones for an 18-yard touchdown to put the hosts up 41-20.
  • At the top of the fourth quarter, Machock threw his second touchdown pass of the game when he threaded the Wilmington defense and hit sophomore tight end Kameron Lee just over the goal line for a 14-yard touchdown pass to make the score 41-27 with 14:15 remaining.

  • The Capital defense kicked it into gear at the right time with a stellar fourth quarter in which they forced back-to-back three-and-outs to put the ball back into the Crusader offense's hands. More to come on their performance in a bit.
  • Capital senior wide receiver David Barnett came up with the biggest of his team-leading seven receptions late in the fourth quarter. On a drive that started on the Crusaders' own 10-yard line, Machock hit Barnett in stride over the middle for a 48-yard touchdown pass that put Capital within seven points of the Quakers.
  • With Wilmington facing another three-and-out, freshman linebacker Nick Fasanik (Upper Arlington, Ohio / Upper Arlington) was roaming in the middle of the field and came up with a huge interception, the first of his career, and switched fields for the Crusaders and put the ball back in their hands with 2:42 remaining.
  • After Machock moved the ball inside the red zone with passes of 17 and 18 yards, Wilmington made a play that would take the ball away from Cap for the last time. Under heavy pressure, Machock escaped and managed to get off a pass but it was tipped and picked off just in front of the goal line.
  • Capital had one last chance when Wilmington decided to run the ball on the first play following the turnover. Malik Sims lost control of the ball when he broke the line. Sims and a Capital defender both possessed the ball at the bottom of the pile, but the ruling was for joint possession, which favored the offense and returned the ball back the Quakers. Wilmington then took two knees to run out the clock and seal the win, 41-34.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • For the first time this season Capital amounted more than 300 yards of total offense. In fact, the Crusaders surpassed 500 yards and outgained the Quakers in total yardage, 509-453.
  • After breaking a nearly two-year run in winning the time of possession battle against its opponent last week, the Crusaders held the advantage in that category against WC by nearly three minutes.
  • Capital held Wilmington to just 4-of-11 on third down conversions.

KEY CONTRIBUTORS

  • McClelland and Machock again shared snapped and both three for multiple touchdowns. McClelland threw two touchdowns and one interception on 13-of-22 for a career-high 237 yards. Machock threw for 204 yards on 19-of-31. He found the end zone a career-best three times to just one interception.
  • Mike Smith had the best day of his young career behind a 10-catch, 149-yard day receiving. He caught two touchdowns, the first two of his career, while also adding a team-best 37 yards on the ground on two rushes.
  • Evin Butler made a career-high seven catches for 87 yards to support the passing game out of the backfield.
  • Senior linebacker Kole Carter led the defense with seven tackles.
  • Junior linebacker Malcolm Wiggins and safety Dakota Kirkbride both made interceptions for the Crusaders' defense.
  • Wilmington's Kyle Barrett finished 18-for-27 passing for 285 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. His favorite target was Itikia Wynn Jr., who made five catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Tre'Quez Parks led Wilmington's defense with 11 tackles and one forced fumble.

BARNETT CLOSER TO BECOMING ALL-TIME RECEPTIONS LEADER

  • David Barnett (Springfield, Ohio / Shawnee) finished the game with seven catches, 116 yards and one touchdown.
  • Barnett is now one catch away from tying for second all-time in CU history number of catches (Matt White '12, 203) and three catches away from becoming Capital's all-time receptions leader (Chris Copeland '01, 204).
  • He extends his lead as the all-time receiving yards leader and now has 2,839 in his career.
  • He is also three touchdown catches away from becoming having the most touchdown receptions in a career at Capital (Matt Friesner '05, 29).

UP NEXT

Capital (0-9, 0-8 OAC) will ready itself for the season finale on Saturday, November 16. The Crusaders will host Muskingum University (2-7, 1-7 OAC) at Bernlohr Stadium and celebrate Senior Day prior to the game. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.