No. 13 Wittenberg, DePauw to battle for NCAC football lead

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The only two undefeated football teams in the North Coast Athletic Conference will meet at 1 p.m. on Saturday at DePauw’s Blackstock Stadium, as the No. 25 Tigers host No. 13 Wittenberg.

Both teams are 5-0 in league play and 6-0 overall entering the game, with DePauw coming off a 26-17 comeback win at Denison.

Wittenberg routed Allegheny 49-15 at home last week.

Defense may be the key to the game, as both squads bring high-scoring offenses into the game. Wittenberg averages 39.7 points per game, ranking 15th nationally; DePauw scores 38.3 points per game, ranking 23rd in the country.

Wittenberg outscores its opponents, on average, 39.7-11.5. Quarterback Jake Kennedy has completed 58.7 percent of his passes for 1,426 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Bryce Bailey is the team’s top receiver with 20 catches, while Jeff Tiffner follows with 19.

Liam Duncan has caught 16 passes with six going for scores.

DeShawn Sarley leads the rushing attack with 94.5 yards per game and 6.2 yards per carry.

For DePauw, quarterback Jake Lasky took over from injured Matt Labus earlier this season and directs the offense with a 65.5 completion percentage and a 157.35 efficiency rating.

He also averages 39.2 rushing yards per contest and is coming off a 134-yard effort against Denison.

Andy Hunt leads the Tigers’ receivers with 30 catches for 575 yards and eight touchdowns, while Jake Hagan follows with 25 catches and four scores. Nolan Ayres has 14 catches and is second with 269 yards.

Last season, a three-minute stretch late in the first half turned out to be the difference as 16th-ranked Wittenberg topped DePauw 21-10.

Leading 10-7 with just under four minutes left in the first half, DePauw committed the game’s first turnover as quarterback Matt Hunt fumbled a second down run and Wittenberg’s Carter Harris recovered at the DePauw 20.

Wittenberg struck quickly with receiver Luke Bowling taking the handoff and completing a 20-yard scoring strike to Luke Landis on the first play from scrimmage. The point-after gave Wittenberg a 14-10 advantage with 3:29 remaining in the half.

DePauw failed to convert on its next series and, after a Tigers punt, Wittenberg started on its own 46. Quarterback Jake Kennedy completed a pair to Landis to move the ball to the DePauw 13.

Deshawn Sarley picked up two on a first down run and Kennedy teamed with Bowling for an 11-yard score on third down with just 49 seconds left to make it 21-10.

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