NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.—Wittenberg football, the #16 team in the d3football.com preseason poll squared off against Westminster to kick off the 2017 campaign. The Tigers and Titans had never met before Saturday, with the Tigers opening on the road for the first time since traveling to Capital in 2015. The Tigers had a bit of a scare in the fourth quarter, as a late Westminster charge was squashed by the Tiger's stout defense, allowing Wittenberg to hold on; 20-14.
HOW IT HAPPENED: After a stalemate of a first quarter, Wittenberg opened the second quarter with a drive that resulted in a touchdown catch by Thaddeus Snodgrass. Snodgrass, appearing in his first game as a Tiger, hauled in a ten-yard pass from Jake Kennedy in the corner of the end-zone to give the Tigers an early lead, and their first score of 2017. Holding on to a 7-0 lead at halftime, Westminster tied the game up on their opening possession of the third quarter. The tie proved to be short-lived as Kennedy and Snodgrass hooked up again, this time for a 59-yard touchdown minutes later. Adam Acquista would extend the Tigers lead, as the Tigers kicker cashed in on a 22-yard field goal in the waning minutes of the third quarter. Wittenberg and Westminster would exchange punts, until Acquista cashed in on another 22-yard field goal, stretching the Tiger lead to 20-14. Wittenberg's defense saved the day on the Titan's final drive, halting the home team's late charge on the 12-yard line, as the Tigers emerged victorious.
WHO STOOD OUT: Snodgrass, a Springfield High graduate, exploded on to the scene in his first game for the Tigers. At the end of the day, Snodgrass hauled in four passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. The junior was tripped up with plenty of green in front of him in the fourth quarter less than 15 yards from the end-zone, which would have served as the wide-out's third touchdown reception of the day. Fellow Springfield graduate, Terrance Crowe picked up where he left off 2016, as the Tigers returning leading tackler racked up 14 total tackles on the day. The Tiger defense kept Wittenberg in the game all day, picking up three sacks as a unit and six total tackles that went for a loss. Senior Jay Mastin was a major part of the defensive efforts, as the safety picked off a Westminster pass early on. Mastin returned to the Tiger's secondary on Saturday after missing the entire 2016 season due to injury.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Wittenberg's only test before NCAC play is now in the books, as the Tigers return to Springfield for a bye, followed by the first of nine NCAC games starting with a September 16 meeting at home against Oberlin. Kick off for the home-opener is set for 3:30PM, as the 15-17 serve as Wittenberg's Homecoming weekend.