There’s an obvious talent gap between the DIII level of college football and even the non-scholarship FCS. That didn’t change the fact that Wabash Football was going into Saturday night’s matchup against Butler thinking they could compete. It was the first meeting between the two schools since 1976 . The final score read Butler 47 Wabash 21 as the Little Giants suffered its first loss of the season and fell to 1-1.
But more than that for the Little Giants and coach Don Morel, they wanted to test themselves against what is expected to be a very good Bulldog team this season. The same thing happened last year when DIII powerhouse North Central made a trip to Little Giant Stadium. Morel would rather test his team against a very tough opponent and lose rather than scheduling and easy team for his Little Giants to just walk over.
Wabash marched down the field on their opening drive of the game but missed a 36 yard field goal. Butler scored on all three of first drives of the game and led 21-0 .
The Little Giants needed a spark and Morel pulled out all the stops on their next drive. Wabash converted a fake punt on 4th & 6 from its own 21 and got the conversion. That allowed Wabash to go down the field and get their first points of the game when Morel reached into his bag of tricks yet again. On 2nd & 4 at the Bulldog nine, Liam Thompson delivered a quick pass to Jacob Riddle who then had a wide open Cade Campbell in the back of the endzone for the score.
“We felt like the fake punt was something that was going to get our crowd back in the game,” Morel said of the decision. “If you can go down and score off of it which we did, you then have all the momentum. We went down and scored again and felt like we were right there. They ended up with a field goal and that kicker is really good and he drilled it. “
The score after that 48 yard FG by the Bulldogs read 24-14 with the Little Giants to get the ball. Wabash had to punt the ball to begin the second half and from then on the host Bulldogs controlled the game. Most of the night their offensive line were more physical and bigger than the Little Giants. They created running lanes left and right for the Butler running backs. Butler ran the ball 37 times for 244 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per carry. The Little Giants only gained 62 yards and 27 attempts. Wabash was the better passing team thanks to Thompson. He ended the game 22-32 for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Derek Allen has 10 catches for 99 yards and Penn Stoller added six for 83 in the loss.
Morel credited the Bulldogs for their play up front which was a big factor in the loss.
“That’s going to be the best offensive line we see all year,” he said. “That’s another reason why I like playing these games is it’s going to challenge us in ways that we don’t normally see. Butler is a team that’s going to block you up high, same with North Central a year ago. We didn’t have a single injury last night or against North Central last year. My philosophy is that I’d rather play a great team in the non-conference where we might lose. We’re going to be a better football team because we played Butler. “
The scene at the Sellick bowl was one to behold. As typical with the Little Giant faithful, they made their presence felt. The official attendance was 6, 271 fans and a majority of those wore Wabash Red. Morel took the time to also thank the fan base for their overwhelming support.
“While the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, it was still a great night for Wabash football,” he said. “We had more fans than they did there and they cheered the entire game to try and keep us in it. I’m very appreciative for their support.”
The Little Giants will now turn towards a big day on Saturday. They’ll have their home opener at Little Giant Stadium against Oberlin College. It will also be senior day and homecoming for the Little Giants. Kick off is set for 2 p.m.
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