Tigers Slide by Wabash 14-7 in Snowbowl
In season-ending match-up, billed as a low-scoring defensive struggle, Mother Nature complicates matters for both sides.
By Mike Lillich, University Editor
GREENCASTLE, IND. - It was only after the DePauw football team converged on the Monon Bell behind the north end zone that the sun finally came out.
The 104th gridiron meeting of DePauw and Wabash took place in cold, wind and blowing snow on a slippery field. But when it was over Coach Nick Mourouzis couldn't have been happier or prouder.
"It's a game for the seniors," he said. "I'm just awfully proud of our young men who prevailed in such difficult conditions.
"We told the team that we had to have all three sides of a triangle to win: offense, defense and special teams."
Turnovers usually are the difference in big games like the Monon Bell contest and in this one Wabash had four turnovers - including two interceptions by junior Patrick Whinnery, the first of his career.
All day long, DePauw made the big plays - on both sides of the ball - when it had to in this hard-fought contest between two teams that matched up evenly.
DePauw's first score came after Durriell Brown blocked a Wabash punt and Chris Ulerick recovered at the Little Giants' 13 yard-line. Then, the Tigers scored on a Bernie Haskins eight-yard pass to Tyler Kelley for the first points against Wabash in the first quarter of any game this year. That was all the scoring in the first half.
DePauw's record-breaking quarterback of the 1996 season, Haskins, threw for only 27 yards and had three of his passes picked off. But with 3:08 to go in the fourth quarter, after one of Whinnery's interceptions and 16-yard return to the Wabash 19, the senior quarterback from Elkhart made a great fake, hid the ball on his hip and rambled around right end to make the score 14-0.
Things looked well in hand at this point. But the Little Giants had other plans. True to their motto, "Wabash always fights!" they made it close at the end. The visitors finally got on the scoreboard with just 1:32 left on the clock on a 23-yard pass from Brandon Armstrong to Frank Serge.
DePauw recovered the subsequent on-side kick, ran the clock down to just over a minute remaining before punting. Wabash, which had used all its time-outs, saw any chance of winning the Monon Bell back tick away.
It's not often that the punter is one of the stars of the game. But senior Matt Hollway was as responsible for the bell's remaining at DePauw as any player wearing black.
Time and again, the senior from Lewis Center, Ohio, booted the Tigers out of trouble. He had 10 punts for an average of 36.9 yards. As importantly, he handled the wet ball and slick field flawlessly.
"In conditions the way they were today, the team that wins field position wins the game," Hollway said. "But you've got to give everybody credit - offense, defense and special teams. It's a great way for the 20 seniors to go out."
David Schubert, a junior from Coatesville, Ind., gained 72 of DePauw's 136 yards on the ground, repeatedly grinding out tough yardage behind the right side of DePauw's offensive line.
"You have to be able to run the ball on a day like this," Coach Nick said. Haskins chipped in with 41 yards on the ground.
On defense, Michael Lewis had 10 tackles, five unassisted. Josh Johnson had nine, Matt Cunningham, seven, as the Tigers pressured the Wabash quarterback and gave up only 103 yards on 32 Little Giant rushes.
This was DePauw's 47th victory over Wabash. The Little Giants have won 48. There have been nine ties.
The two teams first played for the Monon Bell in 1932. The bell was the gift of the Monon Railroad and came off a locomotive that used to travel between Greeencastle and Crawfordsville.
DePauw finished the 1997 season with a record of 8-2 - and a 350-pound bell painted gold and scarlet.