Offensive line shut down, crowd silenced in 46-0 rout
The air around Francis Field was heavy with disappointment Saturday afternoon as the Washington University football team suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Wittenberg University Tigers.
With a final score of 46-0, it was evident that the Tigers were dominant on both the offensive and defensive fronts; the second quarter alone provided 36 of Wittenberg’s 46 points.
The Bears’ defensive players stepped it up in the second half, effectively halting Wittenberg’s scoring frenzy, excluding a field goal in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter. But their performance was unable to prevent a shutout.
Wash. U. beat Wittenberg 30-27 last year.
The Bears had trouble with their running game throughout the day. Wittenberg had a net gain of 208 yards from rushing alone, while the Bears had a net loss of 7 yards. Wash. U.’s top-performing runningback, junior Jim O’Brien, had a net gain of 31 yards and an average of 2.1 yards per run, while Corey Weber of the Tigers gained 73 yards with zero losses. The Bears were unable to penetrate the Tigers’ defense, leaving the Bears with only their passing game.
But Washington University’s passing game left much to be desired as well. Junior starting quarterback Steve Sherman threw for 63 yards on an 8-for-15 performance and suffered one interception. Junior Mitchel Bartel was limited to 34 yards on a 5-for-8 outing. The Bears combined for a total of 106 passing yards (the Tigers had 237), suffered four sacks and fumbled the ball twice.
“As a team we just aren’t producing like we know we’re capable of,” senior co-captain Matt Glenn said.
The inability to stop Wittenberg’s offensive players in the first half was what gave Wash. U. the finishing blow. Many of Wittenberg’s touchdowns were from big plays in which the receivers seemed to slip through each one of the Bears’ defenses. A prime example was the 83-yard kickoff return in the second quarter by the Tigers’ Brandyn Brown for their fourth touchdown. That play immediately followed a blocked punt, which resulted in a Wittenberg safety.
Washington University’s defense finally stopped the Tigers in the second half.
“The game was very disappointing to our team as a whole,” senior co-captain Andrew Berryman said. “I think the positive thing that we can take from the game is that we didn’t quit in the second half, only allowing three points.”
The Bears have a bye next week, which they will use to fix the issues made evident by Saturday’s game and to prepare for the game against Rhodes College in two weeks. The Bears hope to train heavily in their running game and in stopping opponents from making big plays.
“Having a bye week is going to be very beneficial to us for us to heal up from injuries and work on a few things,” Berryman said.
The team is not only set on proving itself after Saturday, but also set on breaking last season’s 5-5 record.
“We are going to have a focused and productive two weeks of practice and come out and beat Rhodes,” Berryman said.