First-Half Turnovers Costly for Tigers

Greencastle, Ind. – DePauw entered today’s Monon Bell clash with just six turnovers and the seventh-ranked rushing defense in Division III, but the Tigers committed three first-half miscues that resulted in 17 Wabash points and the Little Giants rushed for 355 yards as they defeated the Tigers, 45-17, in the annual rivalry clash.

DePauw, ranked 25th in the coaches’ poll, finished its season at 8-2 overall and 7-2 in the North Coast Athletic Conference, while seventh-ranked Wabash moved to 10-0 overall and won the outright NCAC title at 9-0.

The Tigers picked up a first down on the game’s first series, but, faced with third-and-13, DePauw quarterback Matt Hunt was picked off for just the fourth time all season as Delon Pettiford returned an interception to the DePauw 27.

Mason Zurek, who lost only 15 rushing yards all season, was tackled for a 5-yard loss by Cody Baker on Wabash’s first play. Quarterback Connor Rice then connected with Oliver Page for a 32-yard score on the next play just 2:02 into the contest.

DePauw’s offense was forced into its only punt of the day and Wabash needed seven plays to cover 54 yards with Zurek scoring on a 4-yard run to make it 14-0 with 9:52 left in the quarter. The play was set up by wide receiver Drake Christen’s 8-yard pass to Rice on third-and-four.

The Tigers responded as Matt Hunt teamed with his brother, Andy, for a 28-yard score at the 6:56 mark of the opening stanza. Matt Hunt kept the drive alive with a 13-yard run on third-and-13.

DePauw’s defense forced Wabash into its only punt of the day, but the offense couldn’t take advantage as the Little Giants’ Connor Ludwig stripped DePauw’s Jason Kirchhoff and Wabash’s Tyler McCullen recovered at the Wabash 34.

Zurek carried seven times for 50 yards including a 10-yard score on the first play of the second quarter to make it 21-7.

The Tigers’ Marko Adams booted a 37-yard field goal with 9:48 left in the second as part of a 16-play drive that included Matt Hunt’s 6-yard pass to Connor Jeffers on fourth-and-five. Hunt rushed for 44 yards in the series.

Wabash came right back as Rice scored on a 3-yard run with 4:52 remaining in the half to push the margin to 28-10.

DePauw moved into the Wabash red zone on its next possession as the Hunts teamed for a 38-yard play to the Little Giants 11. On third-and-five, Pettiford picked off his second pass of the day and returned it from his end zone to the Wabash 34.

On third-and-three Zurek rambled for 55 yards before Rocky Leffler make a touchdown-saving tackle at the DePauw 19 with 0.2 seconds left. Wabash called time and Andrew Tutsie came on to boot a 36-yard field goal as time expired to push Wabash’s lead to 31-10 at the intermission.

Rice and Page teamed for a 30-yard score on Wabash’s opening drive of the second half, but DePauw countered with Matt Hunt’s 4-yard pass to Andy Hunt on fourth-and-goal.

Again, Wabash had an answer as it used a put together a 13-play drive that covered 75 yards in 6:15 and was capped by Rice’s 5-yard pass to Sammy Adams.

Matt Hunt rushed for a career-high 129 yards on 26 attempts and threw for 244 yards after completing 20-of-39 passes for 244 yards. Andy hunt caught six passes for 104 yards and two scores, while Jake Hagan and Tyler Leising each totaled four catches.

Zurek paced Wabash with a Wabash-record 278 yards on 37 carries with two touchdowns. Rice rushed for 46 yards and a score and completed 10 of 16 for 140 yards and three scores. Page and Adams each had three catches.

Will Longthorne recorded 18 tackles including two for losses, while Philip Ganser and Adam Folta each had 10.

Ludwig paced Wabash with 12 tackles and Austin Brown added 10. Ludwig and Evan Rutter each had 2.0 tackles for loss.

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