DePauw Crushes Wabash 42-7 to Keep Bell
By J. Michael Lillich
Photos: Marilyn Culler, Seth Rossman, Bill Wagner
Crawfordsville, Ind. - Undefeated Wabash never knew what hit them as DePauw dominated every phase of the teams' 105th meeting. The Tigers scored on their first five possessions on their way to a 35-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 42-7 victory at Hollett Little Giant Stadium on Saturday.
When the Wabash brain trust looked at the stat sheets, it only confirmed what the 8,102 in attendance saw with their own eyes. The Little Giants got run over by a train. If that train needs a bell ...
The train's driver was running back Jonathan Stigall, who not only had a career day - three touchdowns, 160 net yards rushing, 42 yards receiving ‚ but also a Monon Bell performance that was reminiscent of receiver Jamie Cunha's incredible day the last time the Tigers ventured north into Little Giant land in 1996 to snatch the Bell back from Wabash.
Stigall's second touchdown was appropriately a waltz into the endzone, as the senior is enrolled in a ballroom dancing class this semester.
But a driver (and a dancer) is only as good as his crew, and both the offensive and defensive lines, and the team as a whole deserved game balls. DePauw had 326 net rushing yards to 31 for Wabash. That adds up to total dominance in the trenches.
The Tigers set the tone on the game's first series. Wabash returned the opening kick to the DePauw 40, but the defense held and Wabash downed the subsequent punt at the DePauw three yardline. The Tigers then drove 97 yards in 14 plays to score the game's first touchdown and the rest was history.
Senior co-captain and linebacker Matt MacPherson, who had nine tackles and an interception to snuff a Wabash scoring threat at the end of the first half, summed up the game succinctly.
"We went out and put an old-fashioned butt-kicking on them."
Wabash didn't get a first down until the second quarter, and DePauw didn't punt until the third quarter.
Coach Nick Mourouzis, savoring his third Monon Bell victory in a row, was a bit more eloquent in his analysis.
"We had outstanding defense [Wabash's only score came on an interception return for a touchdown]," he said. "We got turnovers. Our young men really fly to the ball. I also want to congratulate our coaches who came up with such an outstanding game plan.
"I tell our young men that the Monon Bell is 60 minutes of football and a lifetime of memories."
Senior co-captain and wide receiver Joe Cheshire was already remembering the game as a peak experience of his life.
"It's unbelievable," he said. "We dominated them. We just wanted the Bell more than they did. We went into the game with incredible focus. Everything came together at the end of the week."
Junior quarterback Kurt Hare, who didn't take the helm until the fourth week, played with a confidence and poise beyond his tender years, repeatedly moving his players around and checking off on the line of scrimmage.
When Stigall wasn't looking for all the world like Division III's answer to the Detroit Lions' Barry Sanders, senior running back Jacob Simmons was chewing up big chunks of yardage. He had 126 net yards on the ground for the day to go with Stigall's 160.
Hare scored a TD on a quarterback sneak, Simmons on a 15- yard, fourth-quarter run. Senior running back David Schubert scored DePauw's first touchdown on an 11-yard pass from Hare.
So Wabash, whose students stole the Bell and held it hostage for 14 days, will have to be content with two weeks of ill-gotten gains, getting knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten and watching their post-season hopes go by the boards ... and wait 365 days to even have the chance of winning the Bell fairly and squarely.
Historically, the DePauw victory tied the series at 48-48-9. The 35-point margin of victory is DePauw's biggest this century. In fact, you have to go back to the third meeting between DePauw and Wabash in 1892 to find a bigger DePauw win. The final that year was 42-4. Wabash won by 41-0 in 1953 and 47-0 in 1952.
Today the sky was blue, the temperature was in the 50s, the Bell was ringing and the sun shone brightly on all who wear Old Gold and Black.
And no matter what winter brings, there's an old saying in these parts that it's not so bad if you have the Bell.