It wasn’t pretty, but that didn’t matter. Wabash football closed Hollett Little Giant Stadium with a shutout victory, and in the process clinched the North Coast Athletic Conference championship for a second straight season, and secured a Division III playoff berth for the first time since 2015.
The Little Giants blanked winless Hiram 24-0, and with Denison falling to Ohio Wesleyan 19-10, Wabash earns the NCAC crown ahead of next week’s of the regular season finale.
We did not play well on offense, especially in the second half,” Wabash coach Don Morel said. “But there’s some games where you just have to get your business done, and in the end we did it.”
Isaac Avant put Wabash on the board with a five-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter, before Cooper Sullivan caught a five-yard pass from Liam Thompson to push the Little Giants lead to 14-0 after a quarter. The freshman added a rushing touchdown early in the second quarter. Avant led all rushers in the win with 112 yards, while Sullivan tallied 96 yards from scrimmage.
While the offense cooled off in the second half, the defense continued to impress. For the game the Little Giants (7-2) held the Terriers (0-9) to 187 total yards, and sacked quarterback Xavier Reyero six times. Malcolm Lang led the way with 2 1/2 sacks, while Seth Buresh added two more. Brock Heffron totaled nine tackles and a sack.
“We did a good job of playing a three-man front, and not giving up any big plays,” Morel said. “And then just playing with confidence that we weren’t going to let them score. That was great to see.”
Following a 24-10 road loss to Wooster, the Little Giants have won four straight games heading into next week’s 126th Annual Monon Bell Classic against DePauw in Greencastle.
Despite the Tigers (5-4) struggling at times this season, and the conference title wrapped up, Morel knows the magnitude of the game will enough to motivate the Little Giants.
“With then enormity of the game next week, our guys have been waiting three weeks for this game,” he said.
Wabash 24, Hiram 0
WB 14 7 0 3 — 24
H 0 0 0 0 — 0
WB: Isaac Avant 5 yard run (Handley kick), 6:22
WB: Cooper Sullivan 5 yard pass from Liam Thompson (Handley kick), 1:43
WB: Sullivan 14 yard run (Handley kick), 12:27
WB: Schuyler Nehrig 27 yard field goal, 2:10
Rushing: WB; Avant 29-112 TD, Sullivan 2-39 TD, Thompson 9-21, Mason Durrett 4-21; Totals 44-193. Hiram; J. Waller 17-89, Juwan Brown 3-5, R. Myers Jr. 6-(-8), Xavier Reyero 6-(-30); Totals 32-56.
Passing: WB; Thompson 17-26-155 TD INT. Hiram; Reyero 13-29-91 INT, Myers Jr. 2-6-40.
Receiving: WB; Sullivan 6-57 TD, Avant 3-41, Ivan Martinez 4-26, Nick Hamman 2-18, Gavin Patrick 1-9, J. Smith-Clayborne 1-4. Hiram; Myles Hymes 5-61, R. Davis-Herefo 1-24, Rashid Jackson 2-19, Jaris Foreman 3-11, Moe Yarbough 2-7, J. Waller 1-6, Max Hendrix 1-3.