The Scots dominated Bluffton University 31-6 in their non-conference home opener. The two sides seemed equally matched in the first half with both teams failing to get on the score board, but after a third quarter touchdown from quarterback Mateo Renteria ’22 to Nick Strausbaugh ’20, the Scots were on a roll. Both the offense and defense did their part in exploiting the weaknesses of the Bluffton Beavers. The Scots had 478 yards of total offense and held Bluffton to 282 yards.
The Scots had winning records every season they won their opening game since 2000 (the earliest year results are available), only having a winning record once after losing their first game (2010). This 25-point victory is the largest of any of their opening games since 2000, which bodes well for the Scots the rest of the season.
Fumbles, interceptions and punts mired the first half for the Scots. Wooster only moved the ball more than 36 yards once, and when they did, lost the ball on a fumble at Bluffton’s four-yard line. Renteria completed slightly more than half of his passes throwing 12-23 for the first half.
“We were all pressing a little too much in the first half,” said Strausbaugh. “We were chipping away at Bluffton all day, but were unable to ever get points out of it.” Luckily, Wooster’s defense performed well holding Bluffton to 131 yards of offense, getting a sack by K.C. Koronkwo ’20 and Christian Santos ’20 picking off a pass early in the first quarter.
After a frustrating first half, Wooster’s offense put on a clinic for the home crowd. Entering the second half 0-0, Renteria connected with wide receiver Strausbaugh for a 30-yard touchdown to put Wooster on the board.
“After the touchdown, everyone’s mindset changed and we got back into the offensive groove we usually have. It was a spark that we as an offense needed,” said Strausbaugh. Indeed, Renteria would go on to throw for 308 yards while completing 65.1 percent of his passes. Strausbaugh caught for 134 yards and running back Troy Baughman ’22 rushed for 114. All three were in the conference top three for the weekend.
Perseverance and adjustment were key changes between the first and second halves for the Scots.
“At halftime we made adjustments and kept running what we knew would work,” said Strausbaugh. Though both teams struggled, Wooster was able to breakthrough with a confident offensive line. “Our offensive line was ultimately the deciding factor in the game. We were able to get a good push on all our run plays. With our rushing success we were able to take advantage of the one on one matchups on the outside and safeties coming down hard to play the run,” said captain and tight end Jacob Lewis ’20.
The Scots will play Oberlin for their first game of conference play and the team are maintaining confidence without being unrealistic. “Respect but never fear,” said Lewis concerning Oberlin. “We respect all of our opponents and the skills that they have but we will never be intimidated.” Strausbaugh echoed Lewis’ statement on the Yeomen saying “they always seem to give us a tough game regardless of the year but we are excited to pick up exactly where we left off versus Bluffton.”
Since the beginning of the season seems to set the tone for all of Wooster’s seasons, this next game could be very important. Wooster must play back-to-back road games
against arch-rival Wittenberg and DePauw before hosting Wabash and Denison. The Scots went 1-3 against these teams last year but look poised to upset the conference elite.
Next, Wooster plays Oberlin at John P. Papp Stadium Saturday, Sep. 14 at 1:00 p.m.