It’s one of the oldest rivalries in all of College Football. Just 29 miles separates Wabash College and DePauw University and on Saturday the two rivals will square off for the 128th rendition of the Monon Bell Classic in Greencastle. This season while the Bell is always of the utmost importance to the Little Giants, they have the chance to clinch the North Coast Athletic Conference title with a win on Saturday as both Wabash and DePauw enter the Monon Bell game with a record of 6-1 in the NCAC.
A season ago the Little Giants re-gained the bell with a thrilling 42-35 win at Little Giant Stadium. This year in order to keep the Bell in their possession, they’ll have to get the job done in hostile territory. The last time the Monon Bell game was played in Greencastle was back in 2019 and saw the Tigers score the game-winning touchdown with just 38 seconds left in a 17-13 win.
This game is each teams Super Bowl and with everything on the line Junior Quarterback Liam Thompson knows his team will be ready to defend what Wabash believes is rightfully theirs.
“This is a championship game for us every single year,” the junior captain said. “We really don’t need any extra motivation because we know what this game means for the school, the team and everyone involved here at Wabash. I know that our boys are ready to go. We’ve had good focused and calm practices this week and we’ll be fired up on Saturday.”
This season Thompson has simply been one of the best signal callers in all of Division III. His 3,353 passing yards rank first in the country while his 73.7% completion is ranks sixth. He’s thrown for 33 touchdowns which is third while his 372.56 yards per game through the air also rank first. Thompson has also rushed the ball 66 times for 372 yards and an additional seven scores. The Little Giant offense as a whole is averaging nearly 46 points per game.
“We just have so many different weapons on this offense that make us dangerous,” Thompson said. “We have two or three guys that are more than capable of running it and a lot of guys that can make things happen through the air. We haven’t tried to do anything fancy, but just sit back and play our game and take what the defense gives us. We’ve done that really well the last few weeks and it’s led to us having a lot of success.”
Dating back to 2010, Wabash had dominated the Monon Bell Classic winning nine of the past 11 meetings. Little Giants coach Don Morel knows that despite the history, in games like this you throw out stats and records as anything and everything might happen.
“When the number one goal is handling your business in the Monon Bell game, we can’t think of things like winning the conference or the playoffs or anything like that,” he said. “Personally this is the easiest week for me as a coach because you don’t have to motivate them. This whole week is part of playing football at Wabash College.”
The Tigers come into the game with one of the top defenses in Division III as they are tied for 18th in scoring defense as they give up just 12.6 points per game including four shut-outs this season. Offensively they score 39 points per game and use a balanced attack as they rush for 219 per game and throw for 212 through the air.
“I don’t think it’s going to be as it’s been because they’re a really good football team especially on defense,” Morel said. “Our guys I thought have prepared really well all week for that and that’s all you can really do. They’re good on defense every year then you combine that with how good they can be on offense, you just have to pick your poison at the right time with them.”
Another thing of note for the Tigers is that they rank sixth in the country in time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 34 minutes a game.
While wanting nothing short of a win, Thompson, like Morel noted how tough the environment will be and talked about going up against that tough Tiger defense.
“They’re a well-coached team and have some really good players on that side of the ball,” Thompson said. “Our job as an offense is just to go out there and play our best because we know that’s what it’s going to take. As big of a game as this is we just have to take it as another game and another defense that we’re trying to find the weaknesses of.”
There are plenty of ways to watch and listen to the 128th Monon Bell Classic. The ISC Sports Network will have a live broadcast of the game on all of their platforms. Greg Rakestraw will handle the play by play with Brad Wochomurka and Steve Hoffman on color commentary. Locally you can tune into WIMC Thunder 103.9 as Jared McMurry and Bob Cox will have the call. Lastly you can stay up to date on Twitter as our JR_Sports twitter page will have live video and scoring updates as well.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1:07 pm on Saturday from Greencastle as the stakes for the 128th Monon Bell Classic have never been higher.
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