Langston Hood, Senior Sports Writer
The Fighting Scots football team took on rivals Wittenberg on Saturday, Oct. 29 in a game that can only be described as absolutely riveting. Wooster’s offense struggled early on, mustering just three yards on their first drive and giving the Tigers favorable field position. Wittenberg struggled too, giving the ball right back to Wooster, where another uneventful drive ended in calamity. On fourth down, the Tigers blocked Wooster’s punt and returned it for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead not even four minutes into the game.
On the following drive, Wooster shot themselves in the foot, again, as Wittenberg forced a fumble and returned it for another touchdown to go up two scores just 90 seconds after their first score. Wooster looked to strike back when they got the ball with 9:50 left in the first quarter, but Wittenberg once again stymied the Scots’ offense. Wooster lost eight yards on the drive thanks to a sack and two incomplete passes. Witt was still flying high as they drove down the field in a little over three minutes and covered 52 yards to take a 21-point lead. The Scots’ afternoon was off to a dreary start and, although they gained 32 yards on the next drive, the Tigers again turned away the Scots. This defensive stop only spurred on the Wittenberg offense, as they strung together an 88-yard drive to go up 27-0.
Just as all hope seemed to be lost Wooster put together a drive of their own. Highlighted by big plays from Troy Baughman ’22, a heavy dose of Andrew Yanssnes ’23 and one of the afternoon’s more unexpected twists: the legs of gunslinger Mateo Renteria ’22.
Wooster would wind up making their way into Witt’s redzone thanks to a Tiger committing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for hitting Renteria out of bounds after he scrambled for a gain of six. Just two plays later, Renteria would tuck and run again, this time rushing to secure Wooster’s first points of the afternoon, a six-yard touchdown. Renteria reflected on the importance of the play saying, “getting that first score is always hard… The fact that I had to make an unscripted decision to run for it made it seem very impactful to me.” Renteria added that the Scots’ first score seemed to inspire the team because “it was a hard and physical run, and I am not known for that, so I think it fired the guys up a bit.”
The defense, charged by the jolt that Renteria provided, stopped their visitors and held Wittenberg to just nine yards on the ensuing drive forcing a punt. Unfortunately, Wooster would stall out too, which gave the Tigers a chance to trot down the field. And that they did, but the tartan plaid defense held the Tigers to a field goal attempt, which they converted to go up by 23 points with about a minute left in the second quarter. The half would draw to a close with Wittenberg holding a 30-7 lead over Wooster.
The second half began with a Wittenberg drive that ended in a field goal and it seemed as if the halftime break did not re-energize Wooster. However, the Scots would show their grit on the following drive as Renteria scorched the Witt secondary for 47 of the 78 yards that Scots gained on the drive. The final two came by way of Renteria’s legs as he ran in his second touchdown of the afternoon to bring the score to 33-14. Wooster would terrorize the Tigers’ quarterback Collin Brown ’24 on the next drive, and on second and 16, Q Renteria ’26 sacked the playcaller, forced a fumble and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown. Q recognized his scoop and score as a key part of the game saying, “it allowed the lead to be closed a little bit and allowed offense some momentum.” The Renterias scored 14 unanswered points as the Witt lead was cut to just 12.
On the ensuing drive, the Tigers showed they were not done, as they ripped off a 49-yard touchdown run to extend their lead to 40-21 with five minutes to play in the third quarter. The Scots would respond immediately, as a steady helping of JJ Mims Jr. ’26 and some helpful penalties would see Wooster score an 11-yard touchdown run as the fourth quarter opened. Wooster’s defense would prove mighty again as a forced fumble was recovered by Quincy Taylor ’23, giving the Scots the ball on the edge of Witt’s redzone. Unable to punch it in for six, Wooster settled for a field goal from the reliable Lake Barrett ’23. Barrett spoke to the success of the kicking game saying, “making every kick was the difference,” adding that the Scots ultimately won the game because “[Wittenberg] missed a PAT, and we didn’t.”
Wittenberg kicked another field goal on its ensuing drive before Mims Jr. recorded yet another touchdown to bring the score to 43-38. The next three drives for both teams were unproductive as they mustered a total of 12 yards. This left Wooster with the ball and two and half minutes to win the game. Renteria made use of numerous receivers to work the ball down to the Wittenberg seven-yard line. Thanks to the safe hands of Brazos Gadler ’25, the Scots found themselves within striking distance. Facing third and seven, Renteria found his favorite target, fellow fifth-year Cole Hissong ’22 for a seven-yard touchdown strike. This capped off Hissong’s big day, as he had 102 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
On the next drive, Chris Savaglio ’23 sealed the game with an interception that sank the Tigers chances of finding an answer to Wooster’s late touchdown. The game ended 44-43 in favor of the infallible Fighting Scots. The victory also marked the first time the Scots beat Wittenberg since 2008. Matt Ulishney ’23 is looking forward to Denison as he said, “we don’t want to focus on the win as we prepare for Denison, because we can’t get content with our abilities.” Ulishney also emphasized that “we only beat Witt by one point, so we need to focus on our mistakes to perform better against another good opponent.”
Wooster plays their final home game against Denison on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. Come out and support the Scots!