Related link: Photo gallery (credit: Eric George)
COLUMBUS, Ohio – On a night that will not soon be forgotten, the Capital University football team made history in a fashionable way by playing in and winning their first night, home football game at Bernlohr Stadium. The Crusaders pounded out more than 400 yards on the ground and had multiple key defensive stops as part of their 34-31 win over Muskingum University, Saturday night.
Bernlohr Stadium had a crowd that has not been matched in recent history. They were not disappointed, as Capital achieved it's first 2-0 start in Ohio Athletic Conference play since 2011. The Crusaders also saw junior B-back Brent Walton (Pickerington, Ohio) climb to No. 3 in the all-time Capital career rushing annals. Walton put up his third straight three-touchdown day to total nine on the season, but more impressively grounded out 207 yards rushing.
Walton now has 2,181 yards in 23 games, surpassing Dominic D'Andrea (2007-10/2,083 yards) for third place all-time at Capital. He is just nine yards away from supplanting Ed Garver (1954-57) for second and 106 yards away from breaking the all-time record, held by Rayshaun Gales (2000-02).
The entire game featured a back-and-forth mantra filled with shifts of momentum but another year where the ground game determined the night's winner. More than 650 yards of offense came from both teams' rushing attacks, combined.
Sophomore slotback Cory Heeter (Circleville, Ohio) scored the final go-ahead touchdown, ending a nine-play, 68-yard drive with a 13-yard run and dive to the near-side pylon. The drive was set up by the Capital defense recording a key three-and-out on the previous drive.
As impressive as the offensive numbers were to Capital's win, three key defensive plays turned the course of the game as it progressed.
Early in the game, Capital made not one, but three key stops from two yards out to force a turnover on downs. Jordan Scanlon tried to pound the rock into the end zone on four different occasions but Logan Mahar twice got in on stops, denying any advancement. Derek Eibon, Tim Seifert and Jimmy Curtis all were involved on the trio of stops, as well.
On Muskingum's first drive of the fourth quarter, Eric Stroski jumped in front of the path of a Cody Williams pass, intercepting it. The defensive highlight occurred almost immediately after Zak Sheridan broke off a 42-yard run to give back the lead to Capital, 27-24.
The Muskies received the ball back after Capital's eventual game-winning drive. They faced third and 11 and on a slant play had a receiver open on the near side. Williams had Aron Sutton open but sophomore safety Joe Rodriguez (Miami Springs, Fla.) sprinted in from his position and batted the ball away at the last second. The play forced fourth down and a punt. Capital ran out the remaining 4:14 on the clock to close out the win.
Capital's defense again did not allow a 100-yard rusher, keeping its streak alive at four straight games. Melvin Smith did run for three touchdowns to pace the Muskies.
Three Capital ball carriers had 60 or more yards on the ground. Sheridan finished with 67 yards and a touchdown, while Heeter finished with 60 and a touchdown. Walton closed out the trio with 207 yards, 28 short of tying his career high.
Other game notes:
- Capital went 9-for-13 (69 percent) on third down conversions
- Capital opponents have still not been able to return a punt on the Crusaders. Keegan Irwin's lone punt was fair caught, keeping the streak alive.
- Jack Johns went 4-for-5 on extra points
- Tim Seifert led the Crusaders with 11 total tackles
Capital is now 2-1 overall and possess a 2-0 conference record heading into next week's road contest against No. 2 Mount Union (3-0, 2-0 OAC). Kickoff will commence at 7 p.m.