WILMINGTON – One thing is for sure Saturday, one of the two teams will leave the match-up with their first win of the season.
The Wilmington College football team hosts Marietta (0-6 overall, 0-5 OAC) for Homecoming, and a victory isn't the only thing at stake for both institutions. The Pioneers are the owners of the longest losing streak in Ohio Athletic Conference action, and WC is just three loses from tying the record.
Saturday's game pits the two defenses that have surrendered the most points on the season at 44.0 and 51.2 points per game, respectively. Partially due to the fact they are playing from behind, neither team has rushed for many yards. Marietta, however, is fourth in the OAC in passing yards. The Pioneers' 221 passing per game represents 90 percent of the team's offensive yardage output.
"I don't look for them to have an aerial assault," said interim head coach Jay Niswonger. "Any good football team wants to establish the run."
When Marietta looks to run the ball, senior Tevin Dones will get a lot of the carries. He made his first start of the season last week against Ohio Northern. He has carried the ball 36 times for 119 to lead Marietta. Twenty of his 36 carries have come in the last two games.
Receiver Kirby Harris and Linard Williams have provided the majority of the MC offense, hauling in nine of the team's 10 touchdowns. Harris has 36 of the team's 102 catches for 563 yards, which represents 43 percent of the offense. Williams leads the team with five touchdowns with just 13 receptions.
Getting a pass rush would be imperative to a Wilmington defense that will be starting their third cornerback opposite of sophomore Joe Joe Knecht (Lancaster, OH/Lancaster). Freshman Amari Bryant (West Chester,OH/Lakota West) will be making his second start of the season, the first at home after senior LaVonte' Darby (Cincinnati, OH/Winton Woods) was lost for the season. However, Wilmington has only four sacks on the season this season.
Wilmington found some parts of its running game last week against Baldwin-Wallace, and hope to parlay that into more offensive consistency. To achieve the much needed groove, the Fighin' Quakers must take care of the football. Wilmington has turned the ball over 21 times this season and those drives ended in opponent scores 13 times, 12 of which were touchdowns.
"The defense has been in a 'Sudden Change' mentality all year long," said Niswonger. "I played on the defensive side of the ball, and that is what the defenses job is; to get the ball back. But, (the offense) has to help them out. Our skill players have to keep the ball from hitting the ground. We can't turn the ball over and expect good things to happen."
Senior running back Tyrell Richardson (Columbus, OH/Centennial) gained a season-high 58 yards last week, while freshmanAlex Koyfis (Kristianstad, Sweden/Soderportgymnasiet) added 50 yards and one touchdown. It was the first time this season more than one back went over 50 yards in the game. Sophomore Matt Stooksbury (Centerburg, OH/Highland), who moved from tight end to tackle, aided the running game.
Wilmington was also able to put together some impressive offensive drives last week as the Quakers had scoring drives of 16 and 11 plays, respectively.
The game is slated to kickoff 2 p.m. Saturday at Townsend Field at Williams Stadium.