Tigers win fifth straight Monon game; share SCAC title
Tigers celebrate fifth straight Monon Bell win.
CRAWFORDSVILLE, IND. - How do you win the Bell? You have a plan, adjust, play through adversity, deal with huge swings of emotion and momentum and finally just want it more than the guys across the line of scrimmage.
DePauw did all of the above in scrapping its way to a 27-17 victory against a game Wabash squad for the Tigers' fifth straight Monon Bell victory under the gray skies of Hollett Little Giant Stadium.
The win, in the 107th meeting, lifted DePauw's advantage in the series to 50-48-9 and 34-29-6 since the Monon Bell was introduced in 1932.
The game figured to be a close, high-scoring affair. Wabash (6-3) was coming off a 69-33 victory against Denison. Sophomore quarterback Jake Knott (son of another Wabash quarterback Dave Knott and brother of 1998 DePauw graduate Sarah Knott) put up big numbers all year.
|Despite playing with a torn ACL, junior quarterback Jason Lee threw for 276 yards and three touchdowns.|
DePauw at 5-4 had reeled off five wins in a row after four heartbreaking defeats by a combined total of 18 points against quality teams. The Tigers had a solid quarterback in Jason Lee (Jr., Indianapolis/North Central), and two talented receivers, Joe Schoen (Sr., Elkhart/Memorial), who broke DePauw's season reception record last week and Dan Ryan (So., Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller) who was one score away from breaking Jamie Cunha's season touchdown record.
The script didn't play out as planned as the first half turned out to be a tense defensive struggle dotted with turnovers that ended in a 3-3 deadlock, and, as often happens in this contest, there are unlikely stars.
The second half began with the Tigers kicking off and Wabash's committing yet another turnover. The Tigers capitalized when Rondell Ferguson (Jr., Boca Raton, Fla./Olympic Heights) caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Lee, and the Tigers looked to be on a roll. The point-after failed, though, and the score was 9-3.
But Wabash came back, and not only surged ahead on a 3-yard sneak by Knott but also tacked on another touchdown on a pass from Knott to Ryan Short with just less than 10 minutes to go in regulation. The score was 17-9, and the momentum seemed to have shifted to Wabash.
|John Stephens with one of his two touchdowns|
DePauw began yet another fourth quarter comeback as it marched 71 yards in nine plays capped off by Lee's 30-yard pass to John Stephens (So., Carmel, Ind./Carmel) with 6:51 left. Stephens was playing the game with a broken wrist and will have surgery Tuesday. The Tigers went for two and the tie. Lee completed a pass to Schoen who appeared to have crossed the plain, but was ruled just short.
The Tiger defense stepped it up again as they have all season as Freddy Marrero (Jr., Lake Worth, Fla./Atlantic Community) stopped Wabash back Korey Mauck for a 5-yard loss on first down. DePauw held and after a short punt and Stephens' 12-yard return, they had the ball on the Wabash 23.
Lee completed an 8-yard strike to Stephens and then Jackson Rust (Fr., Roachdale, Ind./North Putnam) ran it in from 15 yards to give the Tigers a 21-17 lead with just 4:26 left.
On its next series, Wabash had a third-and-one from their own 22, but Jason Geringer (Jr., Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington South) stopped Mauck for a 3-yard loss forcing the Little Giants to punt.
The Tigers needed just six plays to put the game away as Lee teamed with Stephens for a 25-yard score to make it 27-17 with only 1:03 left.
|The Tiger defense held the explosive Little Giant offense to 17 points.|
DePauw head coach Nick Mourouzis said that he had never been so proud of a team. "Wabash's motto is that 'Wabash always fights.' At DePauw, we say, 'DePauw never quits.' That's what you saw on the field today. Our guys refused to lose."
Quarterback Lee, on the field despite a torn anterior cruciate ligament, played with poise and leadership and stood in time and again against ferocious Wabash front-four pressure. He completed 25-of-42 passes for 276 yards.
The Tiger defense forced six turnovers, the last by defensive back John Christophersen (So., Ft. Wayne/Homestead) to ring the 2000 Bell once and for all. But that wouldn't have been possible had it not been for the overall day-long pressure on the dangerous Knott, particularly keeping him from getting outside on the scramble.
|John Christophersen's fourth-quarter interception was one of six takeaways on the day for the Tigers.|
Lee saluted his offensive line: "Our guys played great. They held their own against a great front four."
This was not a day for the faint of heart, but Monon Bell games seldom are. See you next year in Greencastle.
NOTES: Trinity's 35-28 loss at Millsaps gave the Tigers a three-way share of their first Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference title ... The Tigers' five straight wins over Wabash equal their longest streak in the rivalry which previously occurred from 1960-64 ... DePauw held the Little Giants to their lowest point total since they scored 10 in a September 23 loss to Wittenberg ... Wabash entered the game averaging just under 50 points per game over their last four contests ... DePauw's defense held opponents to just 72 points in the second half of games this year and to just 30 in the fourth quarter as they outscored the opposition 80-30 in the final quarter of games ... Joe Schoen finished the season with a school-record 80 receptions and 900 receiving yards which is the third-highest total in DePauw history ... His career totals of 153 catches and 1,861 yards rank third and fourth, respectively, in school history ... The touchdowns by Rondell Ferguson and Jackson Rust were the first of their respective collegiate careers ... Jason Lee's 2,194 passing yards were the third most in a DePauw season ... Dan Ryan's 819 receiving yards this year rank fifth in school history ... DePauw fans, through concession sales at the Monon Bell game, helped contribute over $1,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Montgomery County.