WILMINGTON, Ohio – The Wilmington College football team played perhaps its most complete Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) contest to day on Saturday, but Baldwin Wallace University (BW) escaped Williams Stadium with a 35-33 victory.
"Our guys are resilient," Head Football Coach Bryan Moore said. "There was a moment late in the third quarter where they could have punched it in and really bury us. We have some talented young players who knocked the ball out and gave us life."
BW scored two touchdowns in each of the first two quarters and looked to go ahead 28-13 at the break, but DJ Chambers broke loose on a sweep, broke a tackle and scampered 62 yards for a touchdown with under a minute to play in the first half. Wilmington's defense stopped BW from scoring in the final 25 seconds and received the ball to begin the second half.
Trailing 28-20, the Quakers were forced to punt on the first possession of the second half. Tyler Butcher's punt of 65 yards pinned the Yellow Jackets inside their own five-yard line. Jon Murray Jr. got BW out of its own goal mouth with a 78-yard rush, and two plays later, Jake Hudson scrambled for a 15-yard score putting the visitors ahead 35-20.
The Quakers drove deep into BW territory on the ensuing possession, but the Yellow Jacket defense forced an incompletion on fourth-and-five. The Yellow Jackets answered with a drive deep into Wilmington territory as the third quarter ended.
Then came the spark Moore eluded to. On the first play of the fourth quarter, BW had first-and-goal from the one-yard line. The Yellow Jackets handed the ball off to Murray Jr., but Quaker safety Tre'Quez Parks popped the ball free and recovered. BW's defense held, however, but Wilmington's did as well as Aaron Volle picked off a pass and setup the Quakers' offense near midfield.
The drive seemed to stall, however, as Kyle Barrett was sacked on third-and-seven. With just over five minutes to play, Wilmington was forced to go for it, and Barrett found Luke Richardson for a 35-yard touchdown strike on fourth down. The two-point conversion failed, however, and BW held a 35-26 lead.
The Yellow Jackets would not get the ball back, however, as the Wilmington special teams until executed a near-flawless onside kick. Five plays and 54 yards later, Barrett found Ace Taylor for a 23-yard touchdown.
Leading by just two, BW ran out the clock for the victory.
"There's now such thing as a good loss or a moral victory, but to see our team not quit and rally back is something we will build on," said Moore.
BW held a 561-379 edge in yards from scrimmage, but Wilmington countered by winning the turnover battle 3-0. Both teams were efficient on third down as the Yellow Jackets converted 6-of-9 and the Quakers 10-of-16.
Barrett completed 19-of-30 passes for 222 yards and four touchdowns while DJ Chambers carried 21 times for 157 yards. Richardson again led the Quakers receiving core with 81 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions. Ace Taylor hauled in eight receptions for 71 yards and two scores.
Hudson completed 18-of-24 passes for 285 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for BW. Murray Jr. provided 157 yards on the ground on 16 carries while Chad Steinwachs hauled in five receptions for 112 yards and two scores.
"Guys are starting to get comfortable and getting in the right spots on defense," Moore said. "They were able to pop a ball out and make a couple of big plays for us today."
Wilmington (1-6, 0-6 OAC) hosts John Carroll University next Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m.