Late field goal lifts Tigers to season-opening victory
September 6, 2003
Ben Murray’s 20-yard field goal with 21 seconds left lifted DePauw to a wild 28-26 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference victory over visiting Rhodes College on Nick Mourouzis Day in Greencastle.
The Tigers’ 23-year head coach, who is retiring at the conclusion of this season, was treated to quite a finish.
Rhodes took the lead at 26-25 on Daniel Swanstrom’s 10-yard pass to Matt Hrdlicka with just 1:39 remaining, but were whistled for a 15-yard personal foul at the conclusion of the play. Following a failed two-point conversion, the Lynx were assessed the 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff.
That yardage may have been the difference in the game as the Tigers started their game-winning drive on their own 41. On DePauw’s first play from scrimmage, quarterback Andy Yoder’s pass to Adam Sisson was deflected by Rhodes defensive back Taylor Whaley, but the tip went into Sisson’s hands at the Rhodes 11.
The Tigers advanced to the 3 and Murray was called on for the game-winner from 20 yards with just 21 seconds remaining. Rhodes got as far as its own 45 on the final drive, but Matt Koch’s hit on receiver Justin Etheridge jarred the ball loose as time expired.
Rhodes got on the board first on their second series of the game after DePauw fumbled in the first of five turnovers on the day. It took the Lynx just one play to score as Nick Campbell hauled in a 30-yard pass from Swanstrom. DePauw’s Jackson Rust knotted the score on a 10-yard run with 1:35 left in the first.
The Tigers entered the game with plans to alternate Yoder and Ross Wiethoff and the latter didn’t waste much time in making an impression this season. Wiethoff scampered 67 yards for a touchdown with 12:15 remaining in the half. The extra-point kick was off the mark and DePauw held a 13-7 advantage.
Later in the half, the Lynx again capitalized on a DePauw mistake as Swanstrom connected with Allen Sheehan for a 16-yard scoring play with 1:00 left in the half and Rhodes went to the halftime with a 14-13 lead. That score followed an interception.
“With no punts in the first half we were obviously moving the ball well, but four turnovers and a missed field goal held us back,” Mourouzis said.
DePauw seemed to gain some momentum early in the second half as it scored on the first possession. After DePauw’s Andrew Whitelaw forced Whaley to fumble a punt return, the Tigers took over at the Rhodes 14. Yoder and King teamed for an 11-yard gain before King rushed in from 3 yards. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but DePauw led 19-14 with 11:48 left in the third.
Another big special teams play pushed the DePauw lead to 25-14 as Tigers freshman Luis Davila recorded the first of two blocked punts on the afternoon and Curran Clark scooped up the ball and ran in for the score with 4:59 remaining in the third. Topher Jones missed the point-after attempt.
Later in the quarter, Davila again blocked Steven Maki’s punt and the Tigers took over on the Rhodes 27. Rhodes stopped DePauw on the 3-yard line before Jones missed a 20-yard field goal.
The Lynx began their comeback on the ensuing drive as they marched 80 yards in 14 plays and three third down situations and one fourth down. Swanstrom’s pass to Ronald Bozant with 8:19 left in the game closed the gap to 25-20. The try for two failed.
Rhodes’ go-ahead score was set up by Whaley’s interception of a Wiethoff pass with 6:08 left. Swanstrom again converted a pair of fourth down situations including the toss to Hrdlicka.
“Our special teams were outstanding today,” Mourouzis said.
DePauw blocked two punts and forced a fumble on another and Sisson finished with 117 yards on five kickoff returns.
The Tigers outgained Rhodes 439-388 including a 222-113 advantage on the ground. Wiethoff led the Tigers with 96 yards in just 11 carries, while Rust finished with 86 yards in 13 tries.
Swanstrom completed 21 of 38 passes for 275 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers. Bozant led the way with six catches for 82 yards.
Yoder was 17 of 22 for 188 yards and Wiethoff was 5-of-9 for 29 yards. Jamarcus Shephard caught seven passes for 48 yards.
Josh Sadler paced Rhodes with 13 tackles and a forced fumble while Nick Yatsula followed with nine stops. Whaley finished with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Jeremy Legge led DePauw with nine tackles, while Matt Koch had eight including two for losses.
DePauw travels to Hope College nex Saturday, while Rhodes hosts Maryville (Tenn.).Back