GRANVILLE, Ohio – The first game of the season proved to be a challenge for the Capital University football team as they took to Granville, Ohio to battle with Denison University. The host Big Red used a big first quarter to garner control of the game and emerged victorious by a final score of 48-31.
Despite the loss, Capital saw quarterback Ben Everson throw for a new career-best five touchdowns and several players make plays to keep the Comets in the game. Unfortunately, things got away from the Comets early and they could not catch up before the final horn.
Capital falls to 0-1 to start the season, while the Big Red moves to 1-0. The game was the first meeting between the two schools separated by just 33 miles since 1981.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The first half did not go as Capital would have wanted to see their 2022 campaign get started seeing themselves trailing by four scores.
After the Big Red struck early on a touchdown from Trey Fabrocini. Despite the 7-0 setback, Cap took the ensuing kickoff and marched their way 75 yards down the field in seven plays to answer back. Ben Everson found Lance Matthews over the top on a well-executed play, going 20 yards to the endzone. A wet field proved costly for the Comets on the extra point as the snap was mishandled making the score 7-6 in favor of the Big Red.
Unfortunately for Capital, the momentum gained from the Matthews touchdown fizzled out through the end of the first quarter as Denison scored three more times, making the score 28-6 after the first 15 minutes.
To start the second quarter, Denison scored again on Fabrocini’s second rushing TD of the game.
Behind 35-6, Capital finally got their offense moving, as they went 59 yards for a score. The score came courtesy of another Everson pass, this time to the right to Tyson Shutler. The score marked Shutler’s second career trip to the endzone and first time via a reception. On the ensuing two-point try, Everson’s pass to Aralius Walters Jr. fell incomplete, keeping the Comets to just 12 points.
Both teams would ride the final seven minutes of the half out to take a 35-12 score to the break.
Out of the intermission, Capital surrendered the first score to Denison – a 33-yard field goal from Daniel Cunningham – before getting back to the endzone. The Comets scored just 1:38 after Cunningham’s boot as Everson threw his third TD pass of the game. This time, Ben connected with Sam Pickett on a 28-yard strike. Pickett made a nice leaping grab in double coverage to bring the score to 38-18 with 6:30 remaining in the third frame.
On the next defensive drive for Capital, the Comets came up huge as back-to-back plays forced a Denison turnover. First, Jack Blaisdell blasted through the defense and sacked Drew Dawkins for a loss of 21 yards. On the next play, Blaisdell again split the block and pressured Dawkins back for a loss of 16 yards. In the process, Dawkins spilled the ball and Ricky Scott pounced on the loose ball to give the Comets great field position at the Denison 23-yard line.
The prime field position was turned into points immediately as Everson threw his fourth TD of the game, connecting with Mike Elmore in the corner of the endzone. Again, Elmore made a leaping jump over a defender to make the grab. Tyler Terrell then connected on the PAT bringing the score to 38-25 with just over a minute left to play in the third quarter.
After another field goal from Denison, Capital found the end zone again. This time after a strong 71-yard drive, Everson found the endzone again with a seven yard dart to Justin McClelland. The touchdown marked McClelland’s first receiving touchdown since making the transition from quarterback to tight end a season ago. The score trimmed the deficit to 41-31 with 7:46 left in the game.
Capital’s pressure forced Denison to settle in and run the football, something they found their success early on with. The Big Red benefited from the rush game as Trey Fabrocini muscled his way into the end zone from six yards out to push the Denison lead out to 48-31.
INSIDE THE BOX
Aralius Walters Jr. found some success returning kickoffs, taking three back for a combined 115 yards, including a long of 53 yards.
Ben Everson threw for a new career-high five touchdowns. His previous high of four came a season ago. Despite the five scores, Everson only connected on 15 of his passes while throwing three interceptions.. Everson’s successful completions went to a host of receivers as 10 different players caught the football tonight. Everson also led the rushers with 56 yards on 13 attempts.
Antonio Welch had a solid game defensively making nine tackles, including two for a loss. Nick Fisanick added six stops as well, while Griffin McKinney had a solid debut, making five solo tackles.
Cyrus Burden also had an impressive first game making three solo stops and forcing two QB hurries.
In the defensive secondary, Balor Appiarius had two pass break-ups and was in on four tackles.
REMEMBERING MIKE HOOFFSTETTER
The game started with a touching moment as the Capital Comets started the first defensive snap with 10 men on the field, leaving a spot for the fallen teammate, Mike Hooffstetter who passed away this past July. Denison took a delay of game on the play to pay respects, leading to an impactful moment on the field.
COURTESY CAPITAL ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS