When the DePauw University football team needed a goal line stand the most, the defensive front stood tall for the Tigers.
With less than four minutes remaining in the game Saturday, Centre College was on the DePauw four yard line, trailing 14-7. A score seemed inevitable, but the defensive line refused to give an inch.
"What a great effort," DePauw head football coach Tim Rogers said. "I still have no idea how they stopped the run on the goal line. I mean, they were on the field for so long. I thought just pure fatigue would allow them to get in the end zone."
It was a case of mind of matter -- finding a loophole in the laws of nature. It took four downs of grit, but DePauw got the ball back only to drain the clock. Running back Jeremiah Marks lowered his shoulder and barreled through a Centre defender, gaining a DePauw first down and sealing the 14-7 victory Saturday.
Those guys are very courageous and very proud," Rogers said of his defense. "They saved the day. The coaches and players defensively did a great job, and they deserve all the credit for the win."
The win gives DePauw six straight victories on the season. The Tigers are currently 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Southern Collegiate Conference, while the Colonels dropped to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the SCAC.
The Colonels' final drive started at their own 28-yard line with 7:37 remaining in the fourth quarter. A pass from quarterback Kevin Phelps to wide receiver Adam Clark, followed by a third-down 25-yard run from Phelps gave Centre the ball on the DePauw 28-yard line. Running back Adam Blandford banged his way to the four-yard line, but the defense refused to let him touch the end zone.
"I think that entire unit deserves a lot of credit," Rogers said. "What courage - sitting down here on the goal line to save the day - I really don't understand how they pulled it off."
DePauw held the Colonels scoreless in the first half, going into halftime with a 14-0 lead. An intercepted shovelpass by linebacker Rob Farrow on the DePauw 34-yard line led to a 13-yard Jason Murphy run for a touchdown, while a last-minute drive in the second quarter led to the Tigers second score.
DePauw started on its own two-yard line with 1:27 remaining in the half. Set up in the I-formation, it appeared the Tigers were going to run the clock out.
"We were just kind of pound it out of there, be safe and take care of the football," Rogers said. "Then all of a sudden we got a first down and everything changed."
Ross Wiethoff scampered 14-yards out of the end zone, Marks ran 37 yards into the Centre 47 yard line and the Tigers were in business. With 1:09 remaining Wiethoff set under center, rocked back and fired a 47-yard bomb over the middle to wide receiver John Michels for a touchdown.
"Thankfully for us, at that stage they were more people prevent. And you know what a lot of people say that prevents victory," Rogers said. "They called off the dogs a little bit and gave Ross a little time to throw the football, which he didn't have all day, and he capitalized."
Weithoff finished with 82 yards passing and 39 yards rushing on the day. The Tigers gained a total of 273 yards on offense, including 191 yards rushing. Marks finished with 117 yards on 18 carries, averaging 6.5 per carry.
"That had to be the ugliest 100 yards in college football history," Rogers said. "I don't know how he pulled it off, but he's a great kid and he runs hard. He probably ran through a bunch of tackles because I don't think we blocked very well for him today."
Centre finished with 348 yards of offense, controlling the clock with a solid running game throughout much of the contest. The Colonels had possession for 34:13, while the Tigers held the ball for 24:47. Blandford finished with 156 yards on 31 carries.
However, big plays on defense stopped long Centre drives from converting. DePauw's defense had three interceptions in the game, ending drives of eight plays, 12 plays and seven plays, respectively. The Colonels only score came when Phelps pushed a one-yard quarterback keeper in the end zone with 10:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers travel to Rose Hulman Saturday, where they will play the Engineers at 1:30 p.m. Although Rogers was happy to get the win, he wasn't exactly happy with the way the Tigers played on offense. Some of the DePauw players will have their work cut out for them at practice this week.
"We just didn't play well up front," Rogers said. "We challenged the guys up front and they didn't do a good enough job. Whether it was they had too many guys in the box, or we just didn't play well, I won't know until I see the film."
Centre College -- 0 0 0 7 -- 7
DePauw University -- 0 14 0 0 -- 14
First Downs: DePauw 14, Centre 21.
Punts-yards: DePauw 6-224, Centre 3-96.
Total Rushing: DePauw 191, Centre 246.
Total Passing: DePauw 82, Centre 102.
Total Offense: DePauw 273, Centre 348.
DePauw -- Wiethoff 6-13 82 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT.
Centre -- Phelps 10-26 90 yds, 0 TD, 3 INT.; Williams 1-3 12 yds, 0 TD, O INT.
DePauw -- Marks 18-117, Wiethoff 11-39, Murphy 8-35, Ford 2-5.
Centre -- Blandford 31-155, Phelps 10-49, Clark 3-12, Warren 3-11, Conley 3-8, Anderson 1-6, Swartzentruber 3-6.
DePauw -- Michels 1-47, Gines 1-11, Culp 1-9, Jonason 1-6, Roth 1-5, Marks 1-4.
Centre -- Clark 6-50, Swartzentruber 3-39, Brooks 1-8, Blandford 1-5.
Next game -- DePauw plays Rose Hulman Saturday at Rose Hulman at 1:30 p.m.