ZACH MOFFETT ’20 | STAFF WRITER • The football team played its final season game in the 124th Monon Bell Classic this past Saturday. The Little Giants have struggled the past two weeks with a
close loss to Wittenberg University and an ugly win against Allegheny College. Wabash sat at 7-2 overall on the season and the DePauw University Tigers were 8-1 overall on their season. DePauw broke the seven-year streak last season as they took the bell with a last minute touchdown. Both DePauw and Wabash had several major injuries that impacted their high-powered offenses. However, defense was the name of the game this past Saturday.
Wabash would struggle early in the first quarter, and with 8:25 left in the first quarter, the Tigers scored on a fumble recovery to put DePauw up 7-0. Proceeding, Wabash came back in the beginning of the second quarter and score off of an Ike James ’20 rushing touchdown. DePauw then came back and drove down to the Wabash 10 yard line where they scored on a 10-yard pass to retake the lead. In pursuing to tie the game before half, the Little Giants managed to pull off a chain of events from the coaching of Head Coach Don Morel. They brought out kicker Schuyler Nehrig ’20 to take on the field goal, but they faked the kick and junior quarterback Austin Nightingale ’19 threw to Kirby Cox ’20, getting the first down. On the same drive, they were forced to fourth down and again they faked the field goal to get another first down, which came from Nightingale again. Nightingale said, “I was a little nervous because it was a big game and Schuyler was suppose to tell me if Kirby was open or not and if you look back at the tape Schuyler is still moving when the ball is snapped because I trusted that Kirby was open and I threw it, but it slipped out of my hands so I was a little worried, but it all worked out.” James caped off the crazy offensive series with his second touchdown of the day. At the half, the Little Giants and the Tigers were locked at 14-14.
The third quarter was at a stand still as both defensive sides held strong. The Tigers took advantage of the struggling Little Giants offense and picked off a Weston Murphy ’20 pass and returned it for a touchdown, pushing the Tigers forward 21-14. However, the Little Giants fought back in a quick turn of events. Being forced to punt with about six minutes left in the game, they managed to force a fumble on the Tigers return, putting the Little Giants five yards short of the end zone. Again, James marched into the endzone, closing the deficit by one. Morel again made a gutsy call as the Little Giants went for the two-point conversion. Murphy rolled out to his right looking for receiver Cox, catching the pass to convert the two-point conversion.
The Wabash defense was the story of the second half as they shut down the DePauw offense. In the final minutes, the Tigers marched down the field preparing to score. In their last offensive play, they fumbled the ball only a couple yards away from the end zone, allowing the Little Giants
defense to quickly grab the ball for a touchback. The Little Giants ran down the clock, leaving the final score at Wabash 22, DePauw 21.
The Wabash defense was the true hero of this game as they held the high-power offense from DePauw. Another fantastic story is offensive power James as he finished with 1311 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns this season. That puts him second on the all-time touchdown list at Wabash and fifth overall on the rush yards list.
The bold efforts of not just the players, but Coach Morel helped to push the win, no better way to say it was Nightingale, “He has always been confident in us and he just shows us how much he trusts us I mean going here everyone knows it is such a big deal for your coach or your professor to trust you and that boosted our confidence to be like alright our coach trusts us and it was important for us to get it done for our team, for him, and for the school.” With the hard efforts and the Wabash always fights mentality, the Little Giants were able to bring back to Bell to her rightful home.