JOEY SEMEL, Editor-in-Chief—They play today, they win today, that’s it.
The Big Red football team picked up a huge road conference win by topping the Wittenberg Tigers by score of 24-14.
On a rainy day with a young quarterback, the Big Red chose to stick with the run. Alex Minton ‘20 was handed the ball 37 times on Saturday, and finished with 198 yards on the ground. He also added a 2-yard touchdown run.
The biggest play of the day for the Big Red came through the air however. As Drew Dawkins ‘22 hit Peyton Vining ‘22 for a long 81-yard touchdown pass. The Dawkins to Vining connection has been huge for the Big Red this season, as the sophomore receiver is averaging 28.1 yards per catch. The touchdown on Saturday was his sixth of the season.
The win also meant history for the Big Red, as they topped Wittenberg on the road for the first time since 1952. The win encompasses the last few years for the Big Red, as they broke their long playoff drought last season, and continue to find history-making wins this year.
If the team wants back-to-back playoff seasons however, they’re going to need some help. Currently the team is in a 3-way tie for first place in the North Coast Athletic Conference with Wabash and Ohio Wesleyan. In order to win the conference, the Big Red will not only need to win their remaining games (including one against Ohio Wesleyan), but they are also in need of a Wabash loss. Wabash currently holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Denison thanks to their 34-20 win over the Big Red.
Both the Big Red and Wabash have tough games remaining on their schedule, so it is definitely a storyline to watch.
The Big Red continue to control the defensive side of the ball. That is in part due to the play of linebacker Andrew Smith ‘21. After finishing second on the team in tackles last season, he leads the team with 48 tackles so far this year.
Smith spoke to the defensive focus coming into the win against Wittenberg.
“For the defense this game we knew they were going to be tough. But stopping the tricky plays and run was going to be our main focus to win the game,” Smith said.
Smith personally has grown a lot since his freshman year. After missing his entire rookie season due to injury, Smith has come back and played a crucial role for the Big Red. He spoke to how he has grown since the injury.
“This question is funny because my freshmen I broke my foot so not being injured is good . But just feeling a lot more comfortable with the defense as a whole has really improved for me this year,” Smith said.
Not only did the Big Red pick up a road win against Wittenberg for the first time since 1952, but they also avenged last year’s heartbreaking 68-66 4OT loss against the Tigers. According to Smith, the mindset was different this time around.
“This win was different because even though going into the game we thought we should win. But, winning at their place on their homecoming was just a great feeling,” Smith said.
Up next for the Big Red are the DePauw Tigers in a home game on Saturday, November 2.