WESTERVILLE – The Wilmington College football team played even with the Otterbein Cardinals in the second half, but a slow start ultimately was the difference in the contest as the Fightin' Quakers fell 56-28 Saturday in their Ohio Athletic Conference opener.
"I thought we came out very tight and flat to start the game," said Wilmington head coach Bryan Moore. "That is 100 percent on me. In this conference, you cannot afford to do that. However, I am extremely proud of how these men responded at halftime … all of them. They kept competing, kept positive, and stayed the course. The guys on the sidelines were emphatic about making sure we never put our heads down."
The Cardinals scored 14 points in each of the first two quarters, and then added a pick-six to start the third quarter to take a 35-0 lead. After the interception, the Fightin' Quakers scored on four of their last five second-half drives.
Senior Eric Flynn, Jr. (Cleveland, OH/Central Catholic) got Wilmington on the board with a one-yard run, capping a seven-play, 75-yard drive. The biggest play of the drive was a 61-yard completion to senior P.J. Meyer (Cincinnati, OH/Elder) that put them in the red zone for the first time.
Meyer finished with more than 100 yards for the second time in two games, hauling in six receptions for 102 yards. He now has four 100-yard games in his career.
Wilmington resorted to a little trickery as a pair of former quarterbacks hooked up for a 28-yard reception as sophomore Deshawn Maddox (Capital Heights, MD/Fairmont Heights) connected with sophomore A.J. Hightower (Memphis, TN/Tipton-Rosemark Academy). It was the first career touchdown for both players.
It was a Creditt-to-Creditt connection for touchdown number three as Luke (Wilmington, OH/Waynesville) hit brother, Matt (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) for the 43-yard scoring strike.
The Wilmington scoring concluded as freshman quarterback Kyle Barrett (Columbus, OH/Beechcroft) found paydirt from nine-yards out.
"When you compete hard and play hard, good things will happen," said Moore. "I just wish we would have loosened up earlier and not waited so long to get going. How we finished that game; showed me a lot about the character of this team. I believe it was another positive step in our quest to change this culture."
Luke Creditt threw for 149 yards on 11-of-16 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. He added a team-high 65 yards rushing on 18 attempts.
Junior Ryan Prince (Urbana, OH/Urbana) recorded nine tackles, two for loss, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Sophomore Bryan Gonzalez (Miami, FL/Jackson) and freshman Leroy Wilson (Cincinnati, OH/Princeton) also had nine tackles for the Fightin' Quakers. Freshman Deavyn Jones (Kettering, OH/Fairmont) had a fumble recovery to go along with six tackles.
Wilmington (1-1) returns home 7:30 p.m. Saturday, hosting Capital on Townsend Field in Williams Stadium.