By Alex Kaufman
The Big Red continued their undefeated season with a 17-6 win over Hiram on Saturday night. Three interceptions and plenty of defensive pressure alongside 161 receiving yards for Dushawn Brown ‘16 made the difference for Denison.
Along with his 161 receiving yards, Brown caught 11 passes to break the career receptions record. Steve Garnett ‘97 caught 171 passes in his four seasons atop the hill; Brown is currently at 172 and counting.
“Having these records feels great and all but what really feels good is just being a part of this great program,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without this team or the coaching staff.”
Canaan Gebele ‘19 led Denison in passing with 178 yards and a touchdown alongside a team-leading 49 rushing yards and a six-yard score.
Defensively, Denison was not fooled by Hiram’s trick plays. Though a fake punt early in the game assisted the Terriers’ lone scoring drive, their two-point conversion was sniffed out quickly. A halfback pass early in the first quarter was intercepted by Andrew Baird ‘17; Joel Lohoua ‘17 and Ryan Zinkula ‘19 also picked off errant Hiram passes.
Brice Winans ’18 led Denison with 14 tackles, followed by Zach Pewitt ’16 and Anthony Sernus ’17, who had 10 stops each. Zach Neufeld ’17 led the defense with 2.5 tackles for loss and the team’s lone sack. In previewing the game last week on WDUB’s Big Red Sports Talk, Sernus mentioned gap control as a focal point on defense, with “every individual person playing their gap and not overrunning to the ball and creating a cutback lane.” Defensive execution was strongest in the second half, when Denison held the Hiram offense to just 68 yards and 2.19 yards per play after halftime.
It also took until the second half for the DU offense to start clicking. Hiram took a 6-0 lead into the locker room, but head coach Jack Hatem knew what to tell his players. Hatem is “so passionate with what he does,” Neufeld said. “He loves this game and pours his heart and soul into it. I’ve never had a coach like that.”
Denison broke through under a minute into the third quarter, tying the game on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Gebele to Brown. Conor Dunn ‘16’s extra point put the Big Red ahead for good.
Gebele took the ball to the house himself on a six-yard rush later in the third quarter while Dunn put the cherry on top with a 22-yard field goal in the fourth. Overall, Denison scored 17 unanswered in the second half.
The Big Red will travel to Springfield, Ohio over fall break. They will face Wittenberg on Saturday. The Tigers are always a fierce foe, and Denison will look to avenge a 30-23 loss from last season.