Football team takes 24-20 victory over Wooster, ends losing streak
Coming into the game, the Bears desperately needed a win to stop their skid and prove that they could play better than what their 2-3 record idicated. Though the team knew that playing the College of Wooster would be easier than Oct. 8 opponent No. 12 Wabash College, it didn’t want to take any chances as they practiced hard all week for a win.
“I don’t think we really did anything differently in our practices,” head coach Larry Kindbom said. “But I know our guys really worked [their] butts off. I think we came in with a different and stronger mindset that helped us persevere to the end.”
The Bears’ defense started the game well with a crucial stop on 3rd down at their own 24-yard line, which led to a missed Wooster field goal.
Junior quarterback Dan Burkett, who won the full-time starting job this week, and the offense took advantage of the stop and drove down the field with long runs by junior running back Chris Castelluccio and pass completions to senior wide receiver Easton Knott and senior tight end Phill Stoecker. Though the drive ended short of the goal line, junior kicker Eric Chalifour made a 24-yard field goal, giving Wash. U. an early lead that would not be relinquished.
Following the field goal, the Bears’ kickoff unit helped swing the game’s momentum to the Bears as the Fighting Scots’ kick returner fumbled at their own 11-yard line. LaBarge capitalized on their mistake, scoring a touchdown that gave the Bears a 10-0 lead.
“Our special teams just executed really well on that play,” sophomore defensive back Tate Byers said. “I think it really motivated the team as a whole to get this win.”
On Wooster’s second offensive drive, the Bears’ defense forced a fumble from a pass caught by the Fighting Scots’ running back, which was recovered by LaBarge. The Bears’ offense took advantage of the short field and Castelluccio’s runs helped set up junior running back Trevor LaBarge’s one-yard rushing touchdown, giving Wash. U. a 17-0 lead.
Everything seemed to go according to plan until the second quarter, when the Bears’ defense gave up two big touchdown plays, a 60-yard rush and a 54-yard pass.
“We have gone through most of the season without giving up many big plays, but it happens at some point and it just happened [on Saturday],” Kindbom said. “The most important thing is that we shook it off and we came back playing harder.”
The Bears’ offense lost some steam in the second quarter, but they came out in good rhythm in the second half, as Burkett and Castelluccio led the offense down the field for a touchdown that sealed Wash. U.’s lead. Castelluccio rushed for 103 total yards, a career high.
The rest of the game was left to the defense as the Fighting Scots’ offense offered challenges at times; however, the Bears’ defense refused to give in as senior linebackers Nick Hillard and Kyle Larkin broke up two crucial 4th down passes that ended Wooster’s attempts at a comeback.
With just four games left in the season, the Bears hope for another win next Saturday against Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. The team believes that this win can help it move in the right direction.
“We can definitely get on a roll with this win,” Larkin said. “Now that we have the momentum, we just need to execute and get some wins and end on a great note.”