Fighting Scots Hand Little Giants First Loss in Offensive Shootout
This past weekend, Wabash (5-1, 4-1 NCAC) suffered a heartbreaking defeat in a shootout game against the Wooster Fighting Scots (4-2, 3-2 NCAC). At a score of 44- 41 and in a game that saw 1170 yards between the two teams, this game was a display of offensive prowess.
The game started fast. Just four minutes into the game, Liam Thompson ’23 and Cooper Sullivan ’23 connected for the first of their three touchdowns in this game, putting Wabash up 7-0 early. Wooster responded fast, needing just over 4 minutes to score and even the game at 7-7 with just under seven minutes remaining. Just before the first quarter ended, Jacob Handley ’22 kicked a 41-yard field goal to put Wabash up 10-7 going into the second.
Mateo Renteria and the Fighting Scots got to work early in the second, scoring on a 15-yd run. Wooster missed the extra point, pushing the score to 13-10 just into the second. After a Wabash three-and-out, Wooster moved quickly for another Renteria touchdown, putting the Scots up 20-10 five minutes into the second quarter. Liam Thompson and Cooper Sullivan needed only four minutes to connect for the second time in the game, leaving the Little Giants down only 20-17. In just over five minutes, the Scots worked downfield for a rushing touchdown to extend their lead to ten, 27-17. Wabash had the final say in the half with a 39-yard field goal by Handley to cut Wooster’s lead to seven, 27-20.
Wooster began the second half with a strong drive that ended in a fumble recovered by Wabash’s Avery Epstein ’25 at the Wabash 3-yard line. Cade Campbell ’24 capped off that drive with a 37-yard rushing score, tying the game at 27 all. On the ensuing kickoff, Wooster’s Carter Warstler returned the kickoff 98 yards to put Wooster up 34-27. It took just two and a half minutes for Cooper Sullivan and Liam Thompson to tie the ball game on their third scoring connection of the game, re-tying the game at 34-34. Wooster and Wabash both had drives stall out at the end of the third quarter.
Just five seconds into the fourth, Wooster’s Renteria passed for his fourth total touchdown of the game to give the Scots the advantage 41-34. After a three and out by each team, Liam Thompson scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a rush, leaving the game tied with little more than ten minutes remaining. With just over eight minutes left in the game, Wooster’s Sebestyen Balassy kicked the go-ahead field goal to put the Scots up 44-41. Wabash’s offense marched to the Wooster 22-yard line to give Jacob Handley the chance at a game-tying 39-yard field goal. Handley made the kick, but Wooster’s Head Coach Frank Colaprete called timeout just before the snap, icing Handley. On the next attempt, Handley missed the kick wide left, leaving 51 seconds on the clock. Wooster’s final drive took 26 seconds off the clock, leaving Wabash with no timeouts and 80 yards to go. Liam Thompson’s hail mary attempt hit the turf on the final play, ending the game.
The Wabash offense had an incredible day rushing for 391 yards and passing for 279. That total of 670 yards is just 41 short of a college record 711 yards in a game. Cooper Sullivan led the receiving attack with nine catches, 101 yards, and three touchdowns. Donovan Snyder ’24 ran for 220 yards. Cade Campbell added 104 yards and a touchdown. The defense, on the other hand, had a rough day, giving up 408 yards in the air and 474 total in the loss. The fumble recovery by Epstein and two sacks by LB Seth Buresh ’22 were bright spots for the Little Giants Defense. Special teams has been a weakness of the Little Giants and special teams miscues played a critical role in the game. The kick return for a touchdown and the missed field goals created a 10 point swing in Wooster’s favor. Jacob Handley is 3/7 on the year for field goals with one blocked kick.
Wabash will look to bounce back in a tough game against Ohio Wesleyan (5-2, 4-2 NCAC). The Battling Bishops were held scoreless against DePauw for 55 minutes in their second loss in three weeks. Ohio Wesleyan has struggled against NCAC competition, and Wabash’s explosive offense will look to take advantage. Wabash and OWU, both coming off losses, matchup in Delaware, Ohio this Saturday at 2 p.m.