Tigers' Bell streak ends on final play of game

Tigers' Bell streak ends on final play of game

November 10, 2001

Feature Story | Photo Gallery | VIDEO | Statistics


Junior Dan Ryan hauled in this four-yard pass from senior Jason Lee to put the Tigers on the board in the second quarter. The score was Ryan's 26th career TD reception and tied the school record. (photo: Marilyn Culler)

November 10, 2001, Greencastle, Ind. - The adjective "classic" is used liberally in sports, but if ever there were an instant classic it was the 2001 Monon Bell game. Wabash beat the Tigers by a 27-21 score on the dramatic last play of the game, but this game may have been headed to the classics archives without it.

With the game tied at 21-21 and with just 2.7 seconds left, Wabash quarterback Jake Knott rolled to his right and heaved a pass that reached the 5-yard line and glanced off Ryan Short and into the hands of Kurt Casper.

Not since DePauw's Fred "The Toe" Williams booted an 18-yard field goal as time expired in the 1955 game has the Monon Bell game ended with a score on the last play.

For the current-day Tigers, it's become an all-too-familiar scenario at Blackstock Stadium. Just two weeks ago, Centre won on the game's last play in overtime and during the 2000 season DePauw dropped two games on the last play.

The game appeared to be headed to overtime for the first time since the NCAA introduced the tie-breaking procedure in 1996. Trailing 21-14, the Tigers took over on their own 39 with just 1:22 left and no timeouts remaining.

DePauw quarterback Jason Lee completed a second-down pass to Matt King for a 16-yard gain and then, two plays later, tossed a 22-yard strike to John Stephens to put the ball on the Wabash 23. Two straight incomplete passes followed before Lee and King teamed again for a 17-yarder and Lee found Stephens for a 5-yard gain to the Wabash 1.

With the clock winding down, Lee handed off to King who rushed in for his second score of the game. Ben Murray's extra-point kick knotted the score at 21-21.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Tigers kicked the ball short to prevent a long return and Wabash took over on its own 39 with 12 seconds left. Knott completed a 9-yard pass to Casper to the Wabash 48 before Cory Partlow made a hard hit for the tackle. The Little Giants called a timeout to stop the clock and set up the final play.

The fact that the game even came down to a last-second play was somewhat amazing and probably was a result of DePauw's defense. The Tigers turned the ball over six times including four by fumbles. Three of those resulted in the Little Giants' first 21 points.

The Tigers took the opening kickoff and immediately drove down the field. John Stephens picked up 13 yards on a reverse on the first play of the game before Lee found Dan Ryan for a 33-yard gain on the second. Two plays later, Matt King fumbled and Wabash's Dustin Deno recovered at the Wabash 38.

The Little Giants offense which had averaged nearly 40 points per game, drove down the field using a mixture of run and pass, but it was a 39-yard pass play from Knott to Chris Morris that put Wabash in the red zone. From there, Knott completed a 3-yard score to Nick Dawson with 9:07 left in the first.

Wabash drove to the DePauw 7-yard line on its second possession, but a pair of penalties moved them out of field goal range and they landed a punt at the DePauw 3.

The Tigers managed a first down before Josh Stanton forced Jackson Rust to fumble and the Little Giants recovered at the DePauw 18. Four plays later, Knott completed a 15-yard pass to Short to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.

DePauw's defense put together a goal line stand on Wabash's next series and stopped the Little Giants at the DePauw 1-yard line. They again shut Wabash down at the DePauw 18 on the next possession.

The Tigers started to move the ball on their next series, but were forced to punt from the Wabash 45. DePauw's Jeremy Legge recovered Stu Johnson's fumble on the return at the Wabash 20.

Three plays later, Lee found Ryan for a 4-yard score with 2:00 left in the first half to cut the deficit to 14-7. The touchdown catch was Ryan's 26th of his career and tied the DePauw record held by Jamie Cunha.

In the first half, Wabash outgained the Tigers 267-146 and ran 53 plays to DePauw's 30. Still, the Tigers trailed by just one touchdown.

The Tigers couldn't generate much offense in the third quarter as they started their first three drives on their own 6, 3 and 17 yard line, respectively.

Late in the third, Lee teamed with Mark Rinehart for a 42-yard pickup that went to the Wabash 3-yard line. On the next play, King rushed in for the game-tying score with 1:40 left.

Wabash took advantage of yet another DePauw fumble as Lonnie Heck forced and recovered a fumble on Stephens' fourth-quarter punt return. The Little Giants took over their own 40. The DePauw defense forced Wabash into a fourth-and-one situation from its own 49, but Knott picked up the first down on a keeper.

On the next play, Knott avoided the DePauw pass rush and connected with Josh Bronaugh for a 48-yard gain to the DePauw 1-yard line. Following a penalty that pushed the Little Giants back to six, Knott teamed with Short for a 6-yard that gave Wabash the 21-14 lead with 10:44 left in the fourth.

Twice, later in the fourth, the Tigers drove into Wabash territory, but were stopped on downs at the Wabash 25 and 20-yard line.

Lee completed 25 of 43 passes in his final collegiate start and John Stephens hauled in 10 catches for 90 yards with Matt King adding seven for 73 and Mark Rinehart five for 84.

Knott completed 26 of 46 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns with Ryan Short catching 10 passes for 102 yards and two scores. Nick Dawson caught six for 43 yards and Casper added four for 91 yards.

Jason Geringer and David Blackburn each totaled 10 tackles and Freddy Marrero added nine, while breaking up four passes. Justin Tillis intercepted two passes in the game. Nate Boulais led Wabash with 10 total tackles and Brad Taphorn finished with three tackles for loss. Dustin Deno intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble.

The Wabash win snapped DePauw's five-game win streak in the rivalry and brought them to within one game of tying the overall series which now stands at 50-49-8 in favor of DePauw. The 2002 game is scheduled for November 16.

DEPAUW GAME NOTES: John Stephens broke two single-season records in the game as he now holds the single-season reception record with 88 (breaking Joe Schoen's record of 80 set last year) and the yardage mark with 991 (breaking the mark of 936 by Jamie Cunha in 1996) ... Dan Ryan's first-half touchdown was the 26th of his career and tied the record held by Jamie Cunha. It also was his 13th of the season which extended his single-season record ... Jason Lee finished his career with 5,287 passing yards, 801 attempts, 426 completions, 5,125 total offense yards, 45 touchdown passes, 15 games of 200-plus passing yards, all of which rank second in school history to Jeff Voris ... Jason Geringer finished his career with 264 tackles which is the most since John Perry's 282 from 1989-92 ... DePauw's six turnovers were its most since the 1993 Monon Bell when they totaled six with four coming via interceptions in a 40-26 loss to Wabash ... The four fumbles lost were their most since they had four against Albion in a 1993 game that they lost, 28-0.