With just under two minutes remaining in the football game, the DePauw University defense gave its team one more chance.
From the DePauw nine-yard line, the Tigers took over on offense. Only 1:55 remained on the clock, and DePauw only had one timeout. Senior quarterback Ross Wiethoff set up under center, poised, calm, cool, collected, while realizing everything was on the line.
He scrambled for 11 yards, completed two passes and got to the 47-yard line with just 1:16 remaining. The Tigers had a chance, fighting for every last breath, the bell, the bragging rights, all the glory - all 112 years of pride.
It just didn't happen.
"We had a long way to go and only one timeout," DePauw Head Football Coach Tim Rogers said. "They played well. They didn't have to rush anybody, they played the pass the whole way and they did a nice job."
It was all it was hyped up to be. The 112th meeting between the DePauw University and Wabash College football teams was a fight from start to finish, coming down to the very last drive of the game. Although the Tigers lost, 17-14, Rogers had nothing but praise for the effort his team displayed.
"We gave them everything they could handle, and very well could've won this game," he said. "We didn't win the game, but bottom line is they played their tails off."
From the opening minutes of the game, it was a dogfight. Both defenses were dominating, refusing to give an inch, before Wabash finally put together a drive of from the DePauw 42-yard line. The Little Giants got as close as the DePauw six-yard line, before being forced to kick a field goal, taking a 3-0 lead.
DePauw answered in the second quarter after forcing Wabash to punt from its own end zone. From the Wabash 34-yard line, Wiethoff orchestrated a drive that ended on a Jeremiah Marks' one-yard touchdown run with just 1:38 remaining.
The Tigers went into halftime leading 7-3.
However, Wabash took the lead back with just 3:11 remaining. Traveling 71 yards in 14 plays, quarterback Russ Harbaugh flipped to running back Chris Odgen for a six-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal from the six-yard line. Wabash took a 10-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
The game appeared to be sealed when Harbaugh hit wide receiver Kyle Piazza for a 37-yard touchdown with 7:11 remaining in the fourth quarter, but DePauw refused to give up.
With their backs up against the wall, the Tigers started airing the ball out. Starting from the DePauw 34-yard line, Wiethoff hit wide receiver Brian Culp for two consecutive passes, hit Chris Gines to get into Wabash territory and then connected with tight end Chase Jonason for a 21-yard touchdonwn pass.
The Tigers were back in business with 5:14 remaining in the game, down 17-14. Things were getting interesting.
The tension was thick, the Little Giants were driving. However, the Tigers' defense would not give up. Despite all the nervous energy, the noise, the hoopla, the hysteria, the Tigers remained focused, forcing Wabash to punt with two minutes remaining.
After a solid performance, stifling the DePauw defense, scrambling out of the pocket, making throws on the run, the game was on Wiethoff's shoulders. Leading the Tigers to victory last year, in his senior season, it was Wiethoff's bell to keep.
"This is a tough situation," Rogers said. "These guys don't play in this environment very often."
It looked promising, as Wiethoff put the team on his back, traveling nearly into Wabash territory. He was making good decisions, throwing to receivers near the sideline, and scrambling to get out of bounds when the opportunity presented itself.
From first-and-10 with 1:24 remaining, on the DePauw 47 yard line, down three points -- the drive, the game, the season -- it all came crashing down.
A tipped pass forced an incompletion, Frank Knez sacked Wiethoff for a nine-yard loss and the Tigers were forced to take their final timeout. A false start put DePauw at third-and-24 from its own 39-yard line, and the game was all but sealed.
After an incompletion, broken up by Wabash safety Billy King, Wiethoff faced fourth-and-24 with under one minute remaining. He scrambled, weaved in between two defenders, stepped up, and launched a pass intended for Jonason, who was open down the middle of the field. The 6-foot-5 Jonason leaped to full extension, only to see the ball sail out of reach.
There was just under a minute remaining, but the game was over. Wabash fans, rushed the field, the DePauw crowd grew silent, and the history books added another chapter.
The Tigers finished the season 7-2, while the Little Giants finished 10-0 on the season. Wabash will move on to the NCAA Division III Championship, while DePauw can only hope for an at-large bid from the tournament committee.
DePauw finished the game with 251 yards on offense, including 212 total yards from Wiethoff. He was 11-of-24 passing for 174 yards, while rushing for 38 yards in the game. In possibly his final game, the senior shined.
"He had a good day," Rogers said. "He goes out of here, as he should, with his head held high."
Wabash gained 254 total yards on the day, including 178 yards passing. Despite averaging 308.2 yards per game coming into Saturday, Harbaugh was contained, going 15-of-27, being constantly hassled by the DePauw defensive rush, throwing one interception in the game.
Both teams struggled getting anything going on the ground. Wabash had only 79 yards rushing, while DePauw was held to 77 yards on the ground. Marks only managed 40 yards on 19 carries, averaging 1.6 yards per carry.
"The 2006 football team needs to have more balance," Rogers said. "We rely too heavily on the run game, and we struggled today to run the football."
After 112 games, the series now stands at advantage Wabash - 52-51-9.
Wabash 3 0 7 7 -- 17
DePauw 0 7 0 7 -- 14
Wabash -- Chad Finley 29 Field Goal 6:12.
DePauw -- Marks 1 run (Mallory kick) 1:38.
Wabash -- Ogden 5 run (Finley kick) 3:11.
Wabash -- Piazza 37 pass from Harbaugh (Finley kick) 7:10.
DePauw -- Jonason 21 pass from Wiethoff (Mallory kick) 5:14.
First downs: Wabash 14, DePauw 12.
Fumbles-lost: Wabash 1-1, DePauw 2-1.
Penalties-yards: Wabash 5-34, DePauw 3-20.
Punts-yards: Wabash 7-193, DePauw 8-238.
Total rushing: Wabash 79, DePauw 77.
Total passing: Wabash 178, DePauw 174.
Total offense: Wabashe 257, DePauw 251.
Wabash -- Harbaugh 15-27 178yds 1TD 1INT
DePauw -- Wiethoff 11-24 174 yds 1 TD.
Wabash -- Roop 14-56, Ogden 12-45, Brown 3-1, Piazza 1-1, Gardiner 1-1, Harbaugh 8-(-17).
DePauw -- Wiethoff 11-38, Marks 19-31, Murphy 6-8.
Wabash -- Green 4-33, Summers 4-29, Walker 3-59, Roop 2-10, Piazza 1-37, Schirack 1-10.
DePauw -- Culp 5-100, Jonason 3-51, Gines 1-13, Araiza 1-11, Marks 1(-1).