Tigers rip bell from Little Giants 31-13; Finish 9-1 to win ICAC
by Mike Lillich
Photos Courtesy of Brian Fisher, The DePauw
CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. - When the clock finally ticked down with the final score 31-13, the players carried Jamie Cunha and the Monon Bell off the field.
Cunha, who is listed in the program at 5-feet 7-inches and 155 pounds, was the biggest player on the field for the 103rd gridiron struggle between DePauw and Wabash . The senior from Westford, Mass., caught six passes for a school-record 236 yards and three touchdowns.
He had lots of help, though. Quarterback Bernie Haskins, a junior from Elkhart, played with poise, and his offensive line gave up no sacks to the Little Giants, who came into the game with 39 on the season.
Coach Nick Mourouzis also gave the defense credit. "You can't win championships without good defense," the elated DePauw mentor said after the game. "The offensive line also did a great job, giving Bernie time to throw, and we were plus three in turnovers today. We've done a good job in turnovers all season."
The game was closer than the score indicates. Wabash moved the ball well until they got close to the Tiger end zone. Time and again, the DePauw defense denied them the final yard with fumble recoveries and clutch fourth-down defensive plays.
DePauw jumped out to a 17-0 lead on a touchdown run by Jonathon Stigall, a sophomore from Oxford, Ohio, and Cunha's first TD reception, a 55 yarder.
But Wabash clawed its way back in on an interception and a miraculous touchdown reception by Pete Logan, who somehow came down with the ball with two DePauw defenders draped all over him.
The halftime score was 17-7, as DePauw made a goal-line stand, and linebacker Michael Lewis, a junior from Kokomo, recovered a fumble in the end zone to stifle Wabash's momentum with three minutes to go until the intermission.
Wabash pressured the DePauw defense in the third quarter, but the Tiger defenders held tough when it counted. With 3:52 left the quarter, Cunha caught his second long touchdown pass. The point-after missed, and the score was 23-7, going into the fourth quarter.
Wabash always fights, though, and it took the little big man Cunha to put the game away with a 95-yard touchdown on third down with DePauw pinned deep in its own territory. Jay Pettigrew, the senior all-American candidate from Indianapolis, caught a pass for a two-point conversion and a 31-7 score.
Cassel Truscott, a senior from Houston, stifled a Wabash drive with an interception with 4:41 to play. Wabash scored a late touchdown to make the final score 31-13.
"That Cunha is a quick son-of-a-gun," Coach Mourouzis said. "And when he wasn't catching passes, he was blocking for our runners. He plays like he's 6-feet 3-inches tall."
The coach said he was happiest for the seniors, "the guys who had never even touched the bell."
In addition to bringing the bell back and winning ICAC championship, the Team of '96, with its nine wins, tied the all-time record for a DePauw football team.
Individually, Pettigrew broke an NCAA Division III record by catching a pass in his 38th consecutive game. He caught four on the day. Quarterback Bernie Haskins threw for 394 yards (40-23-2) and three touchdowns. Cunha's 936 receiving yards this season is also a DePauw record.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior Scott Farnham, from Omaha, Neb., intercepted his 10th pass of the season, a school record. Truscott and Lewis also had picks. Jon Holloway, a senior cornerback from Fishers, Ind., had a fumble recovery.
Truscott led the team with 10 tackles, nine unassisted. Linebacker Austin Johnson, a junior from Oxford, Ohio, had nine tackles, three unassisted.
Ayo George, a sophomore from Boyton Beach, Fla., also had nine tackles, four unassisted. Linebacker Lewis had eight tackles, an interception, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
Justin Weinraub paced Wabash with 19-of-34 passing for 205 yards and one touchdown Logan caught eight passes for 124 yards and the one score. Mike Wilhelm intercepted two passes and shared the team lead with Kyle Kuba with six tackles.
Sophomore defensive end Grant Hale rings the Bell for the Tigers.