Football: Bears snap losing streak with 26-14 win
The defensive unit of Washington University’s football team forced four turnovers en route to a 26-14 win over Ohio Wesleyan University on Saturday, ending the Bears’ two-game losing skid.
“It feels like we’ve been playing with a sense of passion on the field on Saturdays and especially throughout the week in practice too,” said senior co-captain Andrew Berryman, a linebacker. “It just seems like we’re a different team when we play with a fire under us.”
The Bears allowed only 13 yards of offense in the first quarter, forcing four three-and-outs.
Senior defensive back Tim Olivos intercepted the Battling Bishops’ first pass of the game, but senior co-captain Matt Glenn fumbled at the 1-yard line on the following drive.
“I think just sometimes turnovers happen. Maybe it was our confidence or something else,” junior running back Jim O’Brien said. “It just seemed like we couldn’t put everything together…as an offense.”
Both teams were held scoreless until 2:27 left in the first quarter. Sophomore linebacker Nick Hillard blocked Ohio Wesleyan’s fourth punt of the game, leading to a Wash. U. safety as the football fell out of bounds in the end zone.
“We’ve been working on it in practice, rushing the kicker…We felt we had a good shot this week,” Hillard said. “On the left side, Tim Olivos came off and he took the [fullback]. Since he took the [fullback], there was an opening, and I just ran through. We got the block. It was pretty much exactly the way we planned it. It worked great.”
Sophomore Brandon Rogalski’s 20-yard field goal on the ensuing drive put the Bears on top 5-0.
The Battling Bishops’ first play of the second quarter led to another Red and Green score. Junior defensive lineman John Schneider recovered a fumble on the OWU 14-yard line, giving the Bears tremendous field position.
“Every day [in practice] we have a number that we have to get, in turnovers, and it’s one of the things we pride ourselves on. We get the [opposing offense] in situations, stop the run, make them pass the ball,” Hillard said. “Fumbles are a big thing too.”
Sophomore receiver Austin Morman caught a 22-yard touchdown pass three plays later.
After back-to-back Wash. U. turnovers, Ohio Wesleyan got on the board behind a 14-yard quarterback draw with only 16 seconds left in the first half.
While the Battling Bishops were held to only 67 yards of total offense in the half, the Red and Green recorded just 100 yards.
“We knew going into it that it was going to be a pretty tough, defensive game,” Berryman said. “Both defenses were pretty strong, and the whole week [before the game], our defensive coordinator told us that the best defense on Saturday is going to win the game.”
Glenn put the Bears ahead 19-7 with a 41-yard touchdown run with 5:49 left in the third quarter. The 77-yard, eight-play drive consisted of seven rushing attempts.
Defense continued to play a key role. Sophomore Kyle Larkin recovered a fumble and ran it back 43 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, directly turning defense into offense again.
“It’s always huge to have big game-changing plays like that. There’s times when our offense has off-days and times when our defense has off-days,” Berryman said. “We just try to play as a team together and not let that separate us.”
Ohio Wesleyan added another touchdown late to cut the deficit to 26-14, but junior Brandon Brown’s 42-yard interception return with 1:02 left in the game ended any hopes for a comeback.
Senior linebacker Bryce Buchanan recorded a team-high eight tackles, while Berryman, junior linebacker Kyle Huber and Schneider each had seven.
University Athletic Association play begins for Wash. U. (3-4) this Saturday at Carnegie Mellon University (4-3). Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (ET) in Pittsburgh.