WESTERVILLE, Ohio - The Wilmington College football team found itself a similar situation in an Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) contest at Otterbein University on Friday. Just like in the Fightin' Quakers' season-opener against Capital, Wilmington started a drive inside its own five-yard line with under five minutes to play. History would repeat itself as the Quakers drove over 90 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown in the final minute of a 17-10 win.
The victory, Wilmington's fourth in a row over Columbus schools and second-straight win at Memorial Stadium, propels the Quakers to 2-0 and drops the Cardinals to 0-2.
"Nothing comes easy on TUFF street, and we wouldn't want it any other way," Head Football Coach Bryan Moore said. "We showed a lot of resiliency and grit to have to march 90-plus yards two weeks in a row after not playing for over a year. I never would have thought it possible, but our kids sure believed."
After a scoreless first quarter, the Wilmington defense came up big on the first two plays from scrimmage in the second. The Quakers tackled Jacob Leonardi short of the line to gain, and on 4th-and-2, forced a Logan Pharmer incompletion. After both teams failed to move the chains on their next possession, it was the Cardinals' turn to come up with a big play. After a sack forced fourth down, Otterbein blocked a punt setting up 1st-and-goal for its offense. Three players later, Pharmer scampered in for the game's first score. Wilmington would drive the ball into Otterbein territory on each of its final two first-half drives, but came away with no points as a turnover on downs and an interception sent the two teams into the locker room.
Wilmington's defense got two stops to open the third quarter, and the Quakers' offense delivered the tying drive as Kyle Barrett found Lathan Jones for a 12-yard score on 4th-and-2 midway through the third quarter. The Quakers' defense stayed stout, but the Cardinals matched them, stopping Wilmington two on fourth down. The hosts then set themselves up in the red zone with a 62-yard completion to end the third quarter.
On 2nd-and-goal from the five, Brandon Weaver and Anthony Wilson teamed up for a sack, forcing an Otterbein field goal from 25 yards out, which was made by Declan Farrell. This time, however, Wilmington didn't wait long to tie it as a nine-play, 69-yard drive was capped off by a 23-yard field goal from Connor Bucksath that tied the game 10-10 with 10 minutes to go.
Jarod Lee gave his offense the ball back, intercepting a Pharmer pass, but Wilmington was forced to punt. The Quaker defense stepped up yet again, forcing a three-and-out thanks in large part to a sack from Weaver and Trafford Dunn, but Otterbein pinned its opponent at the three-yard line.
Wilmington then did exactly what it did a week ago, drive nearly the length of the field to score a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute to play. The eight-play, 97-yard drive was capped by a second Barrett-to-Jones hookup for the win.
"Coach Thomas has been calling plays for two whole games and put together yet another historical drive," said Moore. "He and his staff have a lot of be proud of."
Wilmington held a 348-262 edge in yards gained from scrimmage as well as a 124-71 difference in yards on the ground. Take away Otterbein's longest play of the day, and the Cardinals had 200 yards of offense.
"Coach Fillipovich and the defense made big play after big play and were studs tonight," Moore said. "Their '5 STRONG' mentality was critical."
Both teams were 4-of-16 on third-down conversions while the visitors were 3-of-6 and the hosts 0-of-2 on fourth down plays. Both squads also had two sacks and committed two turnovers.
Individually, Barrett finished 22-of-37 for 224 yards with two touchdowns and the two interceptions. Itika Wynn Jr. hauled in five receptions for 63 yards while Jones and both touchdowns. On the ground, Yvan Tientxcheu had 15 carries for 72 yards.
Pharmer finished just 13-of-31 for 191 yards and the two interceptions for Otterbein while Jack Iannarino had five receptions for 97 yards.
Defensively, Tavion Bryant had eight tackles including 3.5 for loss and an interception while Lee had seven tackles and the other pick. A trio of Cardinals - Greg Nolder, Max Walden and Max Bruckner - recorded double digits in tackles.
Wilmington (2-0) hosts Heidelberg University next Friday.