Tigers to open at home today

Saturday, September 23, 2017

DePauw coach Bill Lynch had to make several replacements for this season to fill spots of graduated players, and is happy so far with the results.

His Tigers are 2-0 headed into today’s 1 p.m. home opener with the College of Wooster, which stands at 3-0.

Lynch was not a big fan of having his team’s bye to fall on the first week of the season, but he feels his team is making the best of the situation.

“We are behind the other people with our bye week being the first week,” Lynch said. “Mount St. Joseph’s had already played a game when we played them. We got off to a good start, and played really solid. They had a good comeback but we held on.

“Sort of the same thing at Hiram,” he added. “We got off to a good start then too. We have pretty well on both sides of the ball.”

Lynch is happy with the play of new quarterback Matt Labus, a junior from Guerin Catholic.

Labus took over for first-team all-North Coast Athletic Conference performer Matt Hunt, and has thrown for 664 yards and eight touchdowns in the first two games (to six different receivers) with only three interceptions.

“He’s played well,” Lynch said. “Defensively, we have a lot of new faces but we’ve played pretty well – especially against the run.”

Labus also leads the team in rushing with 132 yards and one touchdown, followed closely by Ramon Lopez with 114 yards and three scores.

Andy Hunt is the team’s top receiver with 14 catches for 264 yards and two scores, while Matt Crupi leads the defense with 19 tackles.

Rocky Leffler ranks second in tackles with 12 and has also recovered two fumbles.

Wooster is “a very good football team,” Lynch said.

“They have moved the ball very well,” he said. “They have a good fourth-year quarterback [Gary Muntean] who is a good football player. They have a lot of good skill players, and they will be a challenge for us defensively.”

DePauw won 35-24 in Ohio last year.

“It was tight in the fourth quarter last year, and we were able to make a couple of plays down the stretch to win,” he said. “It’s a tough situation they have.”

Lynch is referring to today’s game being the team’s first since the death last weekend of offensive lineman Clayton Geib.

The Fighting Scots plan to open the game in a “missing man” formation with only 10 players on the field as a symbolic tribute to the fallen senior, and will wear patches on their uniforms with his number on them.

Wooster (3-0, 2-0) at DePauw (2-0, 1-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

The teams: DePauw enters today’s game with a 2-0 overall record and a 1-0 NCAC mark after last Saturday’s 55-28 win at Hiram. Wooster is 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the NCAC following last Saturday’s 38-20 victory over Ohio Wesleyan.

Series record: DePauw leads the all-time series, 5-2, after winning last year by a 35-24 count at Wooster. DePauw holds a 2-1 edge in games played in Greencastle including a 49-20 victory in 2015. The Tigers have won three straight in the series and are 4-1 since joining the NCAC. The series began with DePauw winning by a 28-8 score in Greencastle in 1975 and the Fighting Scots taking a 31-0 victory in 1977 in Wooster.

Scouting Wooster: With wins over Bluffton, Allegheny and Ohio Wesleyan, Wooster is 3-0 for the first time since the 2008 squad opened with four straight wins.

Quarterback Gary Muntean directs an offense that averages 44.0 points per game. Muntean averages 332.3 passing yards per game, while completing 72.2 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and just one interception.

His top targets are Nick Strausbaugh, Connor Allan and Antonio Bailey with 13 catches each. Bailey averages 91.3 rushing yards per contest.

Scouting DePauw: Quarterback Matt Labus directs an offense that averages 48.0 points per game and leads Division III in third-down conversions at 70 percent. Labus averages 332.0 passing yards per game with eight touchdowns and three interceptions, while rushing for a team-high 66.0 yards per contest.

Andy Hunt leads the team with 14 receptions for 264 yards, while Nolan Ayres has caught nine for 159 yards. Ramon Lopez averages 57.0 rushing yards per outing and leads the team with three rushing touchdowns.

Matt Crupi paces the defense with 19 total tackles with Rocky Leffler following with 12. Brody Gude has recorded a team-high 2.5 sacks as the Tigers have seven as a team in the first two games. DePauw’s defense has allowed opponents just 32.0 rushing yards per game.

Tiger notes: The Tigers are 90-43 dating back to the beginning of the 2004 season and are 67-35 over the last nine seasons ... this marks the 77th season of play at Blackstock Stadium where DePauw teams have posted a 209-140-5 record for a .597 winning percentage … prior to the construction of Blackstock Stadium in 1941, the Tigers played at the same location, then named Blackstock Field, beginning in 1921 … DePauw has won three straight home openers … DePauw is 21st among Division III schools with 574 wins in 131 seasons … Matt Labus totaled 428 total yards at Hiram (51 rushing, 377 passing) which marked the second-best single-game performance in school history behind Jason Lee’s 462 against Hope on the same date in 2000.

Up next: DePauw travels to Delaware, Ohio, on September 30 for a 2 p.m. game at Ohio Wesleyan. The Tigers’ next home game is set for October 7 when they host Oberlin at 1 p.m. on Old Gold Day.

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