The Hiram College football team was defeated by No. 18/21 nationally-ranked Wittenberg University, 49-9, in a North Coast Athletic Conference game at Charles A. Henry Field.
Hiram (2-3, 1-3 NCAC) had the first scoring chance of the first quarter after forcing a three-and-out on Wittenberg’s (3-1, 3-0 NCAC) first possession of the game, but the drive ended in a missed 34-yard field goal for the Terriers keeping the game scoreless. The Tigers capitalized on the missed field goal attempt on their ensuing drive going 80 yards in 13 plays that ended in a five-yard touchdown completion from Reed Florence to Desi Kirkman with 1:08 left in the period to make the score 7-0. The lone touchdown was the only points scored after the first 15 minutes as Wittenberg maintained the one-score margin.
In the second quarter, Wittenberg took advantage of an errant snap on a Hiram punt attempt that led to a five-yard TD run by Sean Gary at the 8:14 mark to extend the Tiger lead to 14-0. Following a blocked Hiram field goal following the Gary TD, Wittenberg found the endzone again on a one-yard TD scamper by Florence to put the Tigers up, 21-0. Just before the end of the half, Hiram senior quarterback George Blake (Parma) connected on a 42-yard pass play to senior wide receiver Richard Simpson (Kissimmee, Fla./Gateway), but the play was called back on an offensive holding call that negated the potential TD. As a result, Wittenberg took a 21-0 advantage into the locker rooms.
The Wittenberg offense found the endzone three times in the third quarter, doubling its point total, with three TD passes from Florence of 36, two and 58 yards to take a commanding 42-0 edge. Hiram got on the board with 31 seconds left in the quarter on a nine-yard pass completion from Blake to sophomore wideout Nate Eaton (South Euclid/Walnut Ridge) on a scoring drive that was set up by a 37-yard punt return by Eaton. The Terrier score cut the deficit to 42-7 heading into the final quarter.
Hiram scored the first points of the fourth quarter on a safety as the result of an bad snap on the Tiger punt attempt that resulted in the ball being kicked out the back of the Wittenberg endzone, making the score 42-9. Following an unsuccessful fourth-down play later in the period for Hiram, the Tigers added to their lead on a one-play scoring drive on a 50-yard TD run by quarterback Zack Jenkins to round out the scoring as Wittenberg cruised to the 49-9 victory.
Wittenberg accounted for 361 yards of total offense (124 rushing and 237 passing). The Tigers were led by Florence who completed 15-of-23 passes for 237 yards and four TD. Zack Jenkins led the Tiger ground attack with his 50-yard TD run. Starting running back Jimmy Dehnke was second with 41 yards on 10 carries. Wide receiver Desi Kirman led all wideouts with game-highs of six catches for 140 yards and three scores. On defense, Wittenberg had three players with 10 or more tackles led by the duo of Brady Vanover and Spencer Leno with 11 tackles each. Vanover also had two sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Hiram finished the game with 204 total yards of offense and was led by Blake who completed 16-of-36 passes for 214 yards with a TD and two interceptions. Freshman David Perkins(Santa Ana, Calif./Segerstrom) rushed for a team-high 20 yards in 18 attempts. Eaton led all Hiram receivers with five catches for 76 yards and a score. Defensively, senior linebacker John Davis (Newton Falls) had a game-tying high 11 tackles (seven solo and four assists) in addition to a sack and a forced fumble.
Hiram will travel to Gambier for a NCAC game against Kenyon College next Saturday, Oct. 12. The game is scheduled to begin at noon.