WOOSTER, Ohio-- A 21-point fourth quarter was enough to propel Denison University to a 38-21 victory over the College of Wooster on Saturday at John P. Papp Stadium. With the win, Denison pulls into a three-way tie for first place in the North Coast Athletic Conference standings at 4-1.
After a 4-yard touchdown catch by Wooster's Nick Strausbaugh with 13:10 left in the fourth quarter, Denison found themselves trailing 21-17. On the first play of the Big Red's ensuing drive, Drew Dawkins went deep to Hunter Biddle for a 61-yard touchdown to take a 24-21 lead.
Wooster's first play of their ensuing possession didn't go as well as Denison's. On first down from their own 24, Wooster quarterback Mateo Renteria fumbled and DU's Nate Keirn was there for the recovery, setting up Denison deep in COW territory.
On 3rd and 6 from the Wooster 16, it looked as if Denison was going to have to attempt a field goal to potentially take a seven-point lead but a roughing the passer call on the Fighting Scots gave DU a fresh set of downs. After an 8-yard pass to Biddle put Denison on the 1-yard line, senior workhorse tailback Alex Minton finished off the drive with his 10th rushing touchdown of the season.
Leading by 10 with 10:11 to play, the Denison defense responded once again, forcing Wooster to punt after limiting the Scots to a 5-play 14-yard drive. The Big Red offense went to work on a 10-play 84-yard drive that chewed up nearly six minutes and ended with another Minton 1-yard touchdown run.
The fourth quarter and much of the second half was an exceptional display of efficiency by the Denison offense. Dawkins ended the day 13-of-16 for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Both TD passes went to Biddle who had a career-high 154 yards on five receptions. His touchdowns came on passes of 53 and 61 yards.
Minton posted a season-high 33 carries and rushed for 155 yards, joining some elite company in the process. Minton is the fifth player in Denison's history to surpass 3,000 yards rushing in his career. In less than three seasons with the Big Red, he has rushed for 3,074 yards. He needs 151 yards to pass Marv Smith '58 for fourth place on the all-time list. Minton also tied Chris Spriggs for third-place with 37 rushing touchdowns. Smith is the career leader in that category with 40.
The Denison defensive line dominated as Chase Struewing and Keirn each finished with two sacks. Andrew Smith led the defense with eight stops. Wooster possessed the football for only 25 minutes compared to 35 for the Big Red. The Scots were held to 14 yards rushing on 27 attempts and 281 yards of total offense. Wooster was 3-of-12 on third down while the Big Red were 7-of-11.
DU racked up 470 yards of total offense and averaged 7.3 yards per play. Biddle wasn't the only big-play receiver for Denison as Peyton Vining had four receptions for 92 yards. He entered the game ranked sixth Division III in yards per reception and that average dipped slightly to 25.8 ypc.
With the win, Denison retains the Old Red Lantern for the sixth-straight year. This was the 25th time the two conference rivals have played for the lantern and Denison holds a 13-11-1 advantage in those games.
Next week, the Big Red travels to Springfield for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Wittenberg Tigers. Wittenberg and Denison are tied atop the NCAC standings at 4-1.