Gabbard boots streak into oblivion
October 20, 2012
Sophomore Joe Joe Knecht celebrated the win clinching interception. (Wilmington photo Randy Sarvis)
WIILMINGTON – The streak is over.
Senior kicker Max Gabbard (Waynesville, OH/Waynesville) connected on a career-long 35-yard field with 31 seconds remaining as the Wilmington College football team snapped its 32-game losing streak with 13-12 victory over Marietta Saturday at Townsend Field in Williams Stadium in Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) action.
“It was a great win for these guys,” said Wilmington interim head coach Jay Niswonger. “We are trying to build something. We struggled a bit, but when we needed it; we came through with some strikes.”
Sophomore Joe Joe Knecht (Lancaster, OH/Lancaster) sealed the victory with his interception in the end zone with two seconds remaining. It was his first interception of the season. The pick came one play after his pass break-up in the end zone preserved the lead as the Pioneers were looking for the winning score.
Knecht’s interception was the perfect capper for a defense that came up with big plays all game long. Following big punt returns that set up Marietta in the red zone, including a return back to the five yardline, the defense limited the Pioneers to field goals.
However, all of the good the defense did in keeping the close almost came crumbling down in the fourth quarter. Marietta nearly ate all of the final 7:30 seconds with an 11-play drive in which the Pioneers converted two third downs. But, the drive came to a halt with 1:51 remaining when junior Devon Burton (Waynesville, OH/Waynesville) broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
The game-winning drive started as junior Brandon Arehart (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) hit freshman receiver Jeremy Duncan (Cincinnati, OH/Moeller) on three straight passes of seven, 20 and seven yards, respectively.
A 28-yard pass to junior Antonio Turner (Gahanna, OH/Lincoln) moved Wilmington down to the 13 yardline, but three straight incomplete passes stalled the drive. Then Gabbard, following a game-saving hold by junior Brandon Minor (Cincinnati, OH/Reading), booted the winner through the uprights.
When the pressure was on the Wilmington offense, they seemed to be at their best Saturday. The Quakers scored on their final possessions of each half. Arehart led WC on a six-play, 63-yard drive immediately after Marietta took the 6-0 lead 1:37 left in the half. Arehart capped the drive with a five-yard pass to Turner. Freshman running back Alex Koyfis (Kristianstad, Sweden/Soderportgymnasiet) had the biggest play of the drive, a 43-yard run in which he broke several tackles in getting the ball into the redzone.
Senior running back Tyrell Richardson (Columbus, OH/Centennial) carried the ball 10 times for 51 yards, while Koyfis had 10 carries for 39 yards.
Arehart finished the game 14-of-24 for 112 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Duncan hauled in a team-high five passes for 45 yards, while Turner had four catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Freshman Nick Williams (Cleveland, OH/Fairview), who was making his first career start, finished the game with a career-high 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a blocked field goal in the first half that kept Wilmington in a one-possession game.
“He was all over the place,” said Niswonger. “I have to give kudos to the coaches for getting him game-ready in two days. He came in a watched a lot of film. The defensive coaches spoon fed him the game plan, and put him in position to be all over the place.”
Freshman Jason Phillips added seven tackles, two for loss, and two forced fumbles, while junior Chris Ferguson (Springfield, OH/North) recorded seven tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks and a quarterback hurry. As a team, Wilmington had 15 tackles for a loss of 51 yards n the game.
Wilmington (1-6 overall, 1-5 OAC) hits the road 1:30 p.m. Saturday for an OAC game with John Carroll in University Hts.