CRAWFORDSVILLE — For the first time since 1979, a group of Wabash seniors ends their collegiate career without losing a game against DePauw.
The Little Giants won the 119th Monon Bell Classic 23-0 over the Tigers at Byron P. Hollett Stadium.
“Really proud of our seniors," Wabash coach Erik Raeburn said. "To end your career at Wabash with four victories in the Bell game is really special. They’ve played the game since 1890 and it’s only happened nine times (for Wabash seniors).”
A solid rushing attack headed by Bluffton native Tyler Holmes led Wabash throughout the day. The junior ran for 175 yards on 33 carries for the day as part of 320 total yards on the ground for the team.
“It’s all offensive line. I have to give the credit to those guys,” Holmes said. “The whole season they’ve been opening holes I’ve never seen my whole career playing football.”
The other side of the field was just as dominate for Wabash. Its defense held DePauw to 142 total yards in the game and into its own side of the field only once the entire game.
“They do a lot of different things and it’s hard to account for some of the things they do with inexperienced linemen,” DePauw’s interim coach Scott Srnka said. “We had to work around the peripheral to spread things out and get them into certain things because they confuse you if you’re inexperienced.”
The Wabash offense didn’t get going early, though, thanks to a multitude of penalties. The Little Giants committed 18 penalties for 133 yards on the day, including eight false starts.
This kept the game scoreless going into the second quarter, but eventually completed a 13-yard pass from Chase Belton to Sean Hildebrand in the back of the end zone.
Wabash scored again with just 38 seconds remaining in the half on a 37-yard field goal to take a 9-0 second half lead.
Even with all of Wabash’s penalties, it was a DePauw one that may have been the game-changer. Early in the second half, the Tigers forced Wabash to punt and had a massive return to inside the red zone. Unfortunately for the Tigers, it was called back due to a roughing the punter penalty.
Wabash would take advantage of the mistake when Holmes ran in for a touchdown from 9-yards out to take a 16-0 lead with 6:36 left in the third quarter.
“We had a freshman, bless him, he was running hard, but he didn’t do what he was supposed to do obviously,” Srnka said. “We were telling all week the guy is going to flop and we hit him … and it was a mistake by a good kid that wanted to do something special.”
The performance from Wabash matched recent history in the Monon Bell series for the seniors. In the past four years, Wabash has won by a combined 147-26.
“Words can’t describe it, it’s you know, definitely a special, prized possession,” Belton said. “It’s the what drives us here at Wabash, and without it, I don’t know what it’d be like. It’s all I know is the bell here at Wabash.”