BEXLEY, Ohio — The Wilmington College football team saw its 14-point lead evaporate in the second half, but quarterback Adam Dixon led a perfect two-minute drill at connected with Itika Wynn Jr. for the game-winning touchdown as the Fightin’ Quaker escaped Bernlohr Stadium with a 34-31 victory over Capital University in Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) action on Saturday afternoon.
The victory, WC’s fourth straight over the Comets, gives the Quakers a 3-1 record, the best start to a season since 2000, the program’s first year in the OAC.
The Quakers, who overcame poor field position all afternoon, began the game on their own five-yard line thanks to a penalty on the kickoff return. Quarterback Adam Dixon connected with Ace Taylor on three completions on the first drive, but a sack, Capital’s first of five in the first half, stalled the drive in the red zone. Seth Best calmly converted a 23-yard field goal for the first points of the game. A Comet three-and-out followed, but a booming 54-yard punt forced WC’s second drive to begin at the same spot as the first – the five-yard line. The Capital defense forced a three-and-out of their own, and after only a 22-yard punt, the hosts drove 27 yards in six plays to go up 7-3.
Wilmington wouldn’t trail long, however, as Dixon hit Itika Wynn Jr. for a 35-yard strike on the first play of the ensuing drive and would end the drive by created just enough time scrambling to his right to find Gavin Foushee in the corner of the end zone. Neither team would score the rest of the half. The Comets had the best chance driving all the way to the WC two-yard line early in the second quarter, but the Quaker defense stood call. Conversely, Wilmington had three drives that started at its own 35-yard line or better, but couldn’t cash in.
Capital didn’t move the chains on its first possession of the second half, and Dixon made them pay, hooking up with Lathan Jones, who entered the game as the OAC Offensive Player of the Week averaging 44.7 yards per reception, for a 59-yard touchdown strike. The Comets, now trailing 17-7, put together perhaps their best drive of the game as quarterback Trevor Harrison-Rawn drove the team 68 yards in seven plays and capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to EJ Ormond. Another Seth Beth field goal, setup by a Jarod Lee interception, put the visitors up 20-14, and after another defensive stop, Dixon went up top to Jones again for a 42-yard touchdown.
Trailing 27-14 as the fourth quarter began, the Comets, on their Homecoming Weekend, rallied. The hosts took advantage of two short punts to score two touchdowns, the later being a 22-yard quarterback keeper to take a 28-27 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Another Capital defensive stop followed, and another short punt setup the hosts at their own 44-yard line with a chance to run out the clock. Wilmington looked to have Harrison-Rawn wrapped up on a 4th-and-3, but the quarterback scampered out and gained a first down to the Quaker 21-yard line. Wilmington was forced to use all of its timeouts, but forced the field goal attempt, which was made by Tyler Terrell from 33 yards out.
The Wilmington offense, which didn’t muster much in the fourth quarter, got the ball back with 75 yards to go and 1:32 left. Dixon used his receiving core and the sidelines to move the ball into Capital territory, and on 2nd-and-3 from the Capital 34-yard line, Dixon launched a ball deep down the sideline that Wynn Jr. ran under for the game-winning score.
The Quakers outgained the Comets 517-310 the WC offensive line did not allow a sack in the second half. Capital was able to pin WC back near its own end zone multiple times and took advantage of short fields to nearly pull out the victory.
“The wind played a bigger part of the game that we expected, and their punter was a weapon for them,” Head Coach Corey Fillipovich said. “We just keep with our game plan on the sideline and eventually came out on top!”
Dixon finished 22-of-49 for 435 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Jones hauled in five passes for 185 yards and two scores while Wynn Jr. and Foushee, who both caught touchdowns, both had at least five receptions for at least 80 yards. Running back Nehemiah Jenkins carried 17 times for 79 yards. Harrison-Rawn finished 12-of-34 for 182 yards through the air for the Comets and also rushed for a team-high 39 yards.
“Adam Dixon is a competitor,” said Fillipovich. “He is learning every rep and every game. Coach Thomas and Coach Skibba made some adjustments in protection at half, and the offensive line executed well.”
Defensively, Joey Weikel had 10 tackles, a sack and a pass breakup while Lee and nine tackles and the interception. Xzerious Stinnett, Jake Sheriff and Ausitn Aiello all had a least a half-dozen tackles while Luke Wroten had two sacks on the day. For Capital, Nick Fisanick, the OAC leader in tackles per game, tallied 13 in defeat.
Wilmington will host John Carroll University next Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.