(CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky.) – The 15th-ranked Thomas More College football team fell, 33-30, to 17th-ranked Wittenberg University in four overtimes today (Saturday, November 19, 2016) in the first round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship Playoffs at BB&T Field in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.
With the loss, the Saints end the season at 9-2 and with the win, the Tigers improved to 10-1 and advance to play No. 2-ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the second round next Saturday (November 26). The four-overtimes is the most overtimes in Division III Playoff history as the previous overtime mark was three when West Georgia defeated Widener, 31-24, in 1982.
Wittenberg took a 17-0 lead with 2:41 to play in the second quarter when Jake Kennedy scored two touchdowns on runs of three and five yards and Will Gingery added two point-after-attempts and connected on a 48-yard field goal.
Thomas More cut the lead to 17-7 at halftime when junior quarterback Brenan Kuntz (Independence, Ky./Simon Kenton) connected on a five-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Logan Winkler (Independence, Ky./Simon Kenton) and first-year kicker Cole Mathias (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg) added the PAT with 29-seconds to play in the second quarter..
Mathias made a 25-yard with 11:53 to play in the third quarter to cut the lead to 17-10. The Saints tied the game at 17-17 with 3:29 to play in the third quarter when senior running back C.T. Tarrant (Hamilton, Ohio/Hamilton) scored on a one-yard touchdown run and Mathias added the PAT.
Thomas More took its first lead of the game with 6:30 to play in regulation at 24-17 when Tarrant scored on a two-yard run and Mathias added the PAT. Wittenberg tied the game at 24-24 with 1:39 to play in the fourth quarter when Kennedy connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Luke Landis and Gingery added the PAT.
In the first overtime period Gingery made a 36-yard field goal and Mathias answered with a 34-yard field goal to force a second overtime at 27-27. In the second overtime, Mathias' field goal attempt was blocked and then Gingery's attempt was blocked to take the game to the third overtime.
Wittenberg had the ball first in the third overtime and Gingery made a 33-yard field goal to make the score 30-27. Mathias then made a Thomas More record-tying field goal of 47-yard field goals to take the game to the fourth overtime.
In the fourth overtime, Mathias missed a 40-yard attempt and then Gingery made a 37-yard field goal to give the Tigers the 33-30 win.
Thomas More out-gained Wittenberg 368 yards (297 rushing/71 passing) to 344 yards (107 rushing/237 passing).
Kuntz was 10-of-32 passing for 71 yards and a touchdown and had seven rushing for 26 yards. Tarrant led the team on the ground with 34 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Hjavier Pitts (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mt. Healthy) had 14 carries for 133 yards. Winkler had three catches for 23 yards and a touchdown to lead the receivers.
Junior defensive back Johnny Lammers (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) led the Saints' defense with 11 tackles (three solo, eight assisted), including a half tackle for a loss. Junior linebacker Tre' Tunstill (Indianapolis, Ind./Ben Davis) had 10 tackles (five solo, five assisted), including a sack and three tackles for a loss and senior linebacker Austin Copeland (Cincinnati, Ohio/Kings) had 10 tackles (five solo, five assisted) and one fumble recovery.