CHICAGO, IL. – Wabash brought the University of Chicago’s eight-game home winning streak to an emphatic halt Saturday at Amos Alonso Stagg Field, 49-7.
Wabash scored through the air, on the ground, on a blocked punt, punt return, field goal, and interception to route the host Maroon and improve to 3-0.
The special team plays were the backbreaker for Chicago. Leading 7-0 after a Wes Chamblee six-yard TD pass from Chase Belton , Nate Scola broke through to block a punt, pick the ball up and rumble 34 yards to make the game 14-0.
If there was any doubt about the outcome it was probably sealed early in the third quarter when Chamblee set Wabash and North Coast Athletic records with a 94-yard punt return for the score, 26-0. His return broke the school record of 93 yards set by Frank Roman ’50 in 1946 and equalled by Geoff Walker ’07 in 2005. Walker’s return in 2005 set the NCAC mark.
Throughout the offensive onslaught, Chicago wasn’t going anywhere. The Little Giants held the Maroons to 48 yards rushing and 89 passing.
“I believe so far it was our best game of the year,” said defensive lineman Pat Clegg“. In the first half it wasn’t if we were going to get in the backfield it was who was going to make the tackle first … in the backfield. So it was a great win.”
The defense had six tackles for loss, four quarterback sacks and four interceptions. Maroon receiving star Dee Brizzolara was held to three catches for 37 yards.
The defense played without starting middle linebacker CJ Gum, out with an injury. Freshmen AJ Akinribade and Cody Buresh stepped up as starters with eight and six tackles, respectively.Luke Zinsmaster had nine stops, a sack, and a tackle for loss. Houston Hodges had a sack and Austin Hodges had two interceptions.
“Besides giving up the late score, I thought we played real well,” Sophomore Scola said. Scola started at middle linebacker in Gum’s absence. “We worked real hard this week on the run. We knew they were going to come out and try to run the ball on us. Buresh and AJ stepped up. We all add to step up with CJ being out. I’m looking forward to having him back next week. With him being out and us playing as well as we did, I can’t wait till we get him back because it’s going to be even better.” Raeburn was thrilled with the effort of his young defensive stand ins.
“We had some young guys in there on defense, so to play this well with out (CJ) with some really young guys is encouraging,” the head coach said. “I think those young guys did a pretty good job. And I thought our defensive line did a good job up front.”
Chicago’s only score came on a 16-yard catch by Brizzolara to open the fourth quarter, 34-7. Wabash added a touchdown on the ground and David Direnfield’s 68-yard interception return with seconds remaining.
One of the few negatives for Wabash was continued penalty problems, 10 for 80 yards with most of those coming in the first half.
Freshman Brock Smith handled the kick-off duty for the Little Giants.
Wabash is home Saturday to host the Kenyon Lords for Homecoming.