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Wilmington Football 2019 Season in Review

The 2019 Wilmington College football team, under the direction of third-year Head Coach Bryan Moore, looked to improve upon a winless Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) campaign a season earlier. The Fightin' Quakers did that and more, finishing the season with the program's best record in over a decade. This is their story.

Wilmington opened its season on Sept. 7 with a night contest against Olivet College.

The Figthin' Quakers started strong. After the defense forced a 3-and-out, the offense scored on its first possession.

Junior quarterback Kyle Barrett led a 12-play, 90-yard drive capped by a 1-yard scamper (pictured left) into the end zone.

That touchdown proved to be the only score of the first quarter. Wilmington would be the first to score in the second as Tyler Butcher gave the hosts a 10-0 lead with a 39-yard field goal.

Wilmington's defense remained opportunistic, forcing and recovering a fumble on the very next play from scrimmage.

Unfortunately, the Quakers could not capitalize as the offense moved just four yards in four plays.

Olivet took over at its own 30-yard line and marched 70 yards in a dozen plays to score with less than a minute left in the half.

The PAT failed and Wilmington took a 10-6 lead into halftime.

Photos from the second half against Olivet.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, but Olivet's offense, which was held in check, began to crack the Quaker defense in the fourth quarter. The Comets went to senior running back Noah McMinn on six straight plays to score on the opening drive of the fourth quarter. After a Wilmington 3-and-out, McMinn got the call eight straight plays. The result was the same - a Comet touchdown - and Olivet led 20-10 with two minutes to play.

Wilmington did score on its final drive - a Kyle Barrett to Ace Taylor touchdown, but the ensuing onside kick attempt failed. Olivet, which went on to finish the year 8-2, took the season-opener 20-17.

The following week, the Fightin' Quakers traveled to Tiffin to face Heidelberg University in the OAC opener. Wilmington drove inside the Student Prince 40-yard line on each of its first four drives, but couldn't score a single point. That combined with two interceptions gave Heidelberg a 14-0 lead at halftime.

On the first drive of the second half, junior safety Tre'Quez Parks intercepted a pass that led to a Wilmington touchdown, but 10 straight Heidelberg points put the game out of reach.

Next up, a Homecoming date with Ohio Northern University.

Despite entering the game with an 0-2 record and facing an opponent that it had not beaten in half of a century, Wilmington did not look nervous from the opening kickoff.

On Wilmington's first drive of the game, Kyle Barrett capped off a 12-play, 70-yard drive with a 5-yard score.

Ohio Northern answered with a touchdown of its own, but Kyle Barrett once again broke the deadlock, finding Itika Wynn Jr. for a score.

Leading 14-7, Wilmington's defense got the first stop of the game as Tavion Bryant made a tackle on 4th-and-7 in Quaker territory.

The offense responded with another score as Barrett found Luke Richardson for a 59-yard strike as the second quarter opened.

The Polar Bears got three points on their next drive, but the Quakers' offense made it 4-for-4 on scoring touchdowns as Gino Hinton scampered 65 yards into the end zone.

Yet another defensive stop for Wilmington gave the offense back the ball for the final drive of the first half. The hosts used all but a few seconds left of the 4-minute game clock to drive into field goal range, but the 30-yard attempt sailed wide right.

Wilmington took its 28-10 lead into halftime after playing a near-perfect offensive half.

The offensive flow of the game continued into the third quarter as both teams utilized their respective passing attacks to score on the opening possession.

With the score 35-17, Ohio Northern took over and fed the ball to All-American Christiaan Williams. That resulted in the Polar Bear offense scoring and setting up quarterback Anthony McFadden through the air.

Ohio Northern came all the way back from 18 points down to take a 38-35 lead with 9:41 to play in the fourth quarter.

A long pass from Kyle Barrett to Luke Richardson setup Wilmington in Ohio Northern territory on the next possession, but the Quakers failed to convert a 4th-and-14 and the Polar Bears took over with 4:21 to play.

Multiple times in 2018, Wilmington was in this situation - down less than a score and needing a defensive stop - and couldn't its offense back the ball. This year was different, however, as Ameer Jackson made an open-field tackle forcing a Polar Bear punt.

The Quaker offense took over with 2:12 to go, and thanks to a holding penalty, began at their own 11-yard line.

Two straight completions from Kyle Barrett to Ace Taylor setup 3rd-and-1, but Barrett was stuff for no gain, forcing a timeout from Head Coach Bryan Moore on 4th-and-1 with 1:32 to play. A pass play was called, but no one was open. Barrett scrambled around and dove forward for three yards to move the chains.

On the very next play, Barrett found Richardson for 40 yards. After another timeout, Ace Taylor hauled in an over-the-shoulder catch while being interfered with by a Polar Bear defensive back. Barrett then completed the drive with a touchdown pass to Itika Wynn Jr.

With just seconds remaining, Ohio Northern's desperation heave from midfield hit the turf, and the capacity crowd at Williams Stadium went wild. The Quakers had knocked off Ohio Northern 42-38.

Wilmington, now 1-2 on the season, looked to close out September with a win at Muskingum University. The Quakers were met by a Fighting Musky rushing attack that accumulated 359 yards in a 38-21 win.

After a defeat at the hands of No. 1-ranked the University of Mount Union, Wilmington hosted Marietta College on Oct. 19.

Wilmington's offense moved the ball from the start just like in the Ohio Northern game. Touchdowns on the first two drives put the Quakers up 13-0, but two fumbles deep in their own territory setup Pioneer touchdowns.

Despite doubling Marietta in yards, Wilmington trailed 21-13 at halftime.

Marietta rode its running back, senior Tanner Clark, to victory in the second half. Though he was held to just 3.1 yards per carry, Clark was given the ball 42 times.

Two unsuccessful trips to Northeast Ohio followed as Wilmington fell victim to Baldwin Wallace University and nationally-ranked John Carroll University in the following two weeks. Standing at 1-6, the Quakers returned to Williams Stadium for a Senior Day contest against Capital University on Nov. 9.

Senior day graphic for the Capital game.

Capital entered the game winless, but its offense was bolstered by the return of the program's career receptions leader.

The first three drives could not have gone better for the Quakers. The Wilmington defensive unit force three consecutive 3-and-outs, and the offense found pay dirt on a three of its drives.

Kyle Barrett found Itika Wynn Jr. (pictured left) for a 40-yard score on the first drive, Gino Hinton ran for a 30-yard touchdown on the second and Barrett hit Deshawn Maddox for a 17-yard score on the third.

In just over 10 minutes of game time, Wilmington had built itself a 21-0 lead.

Capital would score on its next two drives, but as the second quarter opened, the Wilmington offense showed no signs of letting up either.

Another Barrett found Richardson for a score and followed that up with another hookup to Wynn Jr.

Deshawn Maddox pictured with fellow wide receiver Ace Taylor after catching a touchdown late in the first quarter.

Itika Wynn Jr. catching the final touchdown of the first half.

Wilmington took a 34-14 lead into halftime.

The second half wouldn't play out like the first half, unfortunately for Wilmington. Capital clawed all the way back to within 41-34 with 3:14 to play in the game. The Crusaders' onside kick attempt failed, however, and the Quakers were just a field down away from a Senior Day victory.

The Capital defense, which looked like a completely different unit in the second half, intercepted Barrett on 3rd-and-5 near midfield. Two completions that followed setup the Crusaders inside the Wilmington red zone.

The Wilmington defense forced two incompletions, and the Eli Berner stepped in front of a pass, intercepted it and sealed a Quaker win.
"We inherited these seniors from the previous coaching staff and they stuck with me. They've done a great job of setting a different standard for our program. It was critical to send them out the appropriate way." - Head Coach Bryan Moore after the Senior Day Victory

Wilmington (2-6, 2-5 OAC) headed to Otterbein University for the final game of the 2019 season the following week in search of some revenge. A season earlier, the Cardinals had spoiled the Quakers' Senior Day festivities, and Wilmington was looking to do the same in Westerville.

Gino Hinton capped off an 11-play, 69-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to open the game.

After both teams failed to score, Otterbein tied the game midway through the first quarter, but a long Luke Richardson kickoff return, that included a fake reverse, setup Wilmington with good field position.

A 33-yard Hinton run on the first play of the drive setup Malik Sims' 2-yard score. The PAT attempt failed, and the Quakers led 13-7 a score that would hold to halftime.

Junior quarterback Kyle Barrett

Midway through the third quarter, Otterbein answered with a pick six and grabbed a 14-13 lead. Barrett shook off the mistake a couple drives later, connecting with Luke Richardson for a 76-yard strike with 7:46 to play in regulation.

Otterbein, thanks to a long 56-yard run, drove deep into Wilmington territory looking for a go-ahead score. The Quaker defense came up with two tackles for loss followed by forcing an incomplete pass to setup 4th-and-goal from the 15-yard line.

The Cardinals answered the bell, converting a pass play for a touchdown. To make matter's worse, Barrett threw his second interception that was returned for a touchdown on the Quakers' next offensive drive. Up 27-20, Otterbein elected to go for the two-point conversion to seal the game.

The Wilmington defense dialed up a blitz that worked perfectly as Otterbein's rushing attempt was stopped before it even began.

Thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Otterbein after the touchdown, the Cardinals kicked off at their own 20-yard line. A 23-yard Luke Richardson return gave Wilmington the ball at midfield with 1:19 to play.

A sack opened the drive, but after a timeout, consecutive Barrett completions moved the chains. Two plays later, the Quakers faced another 3rd-and-long. The passing game delivered again, this time a 32-yard strike from Barrett to Wynn Jr.

On the very next play, that same connection scored a 4-yard touchdown. Now trailing by a point - 27-26 - Bryan Moore elected to do the same thing Otterbein had tried: win the game with a two-point conversion.

On the two-point try, Barrett rolled out to his right after and fit a pass in between two Cardinal defenders to, you guessed it, Wynn Jr. for the win.

Postseason awards were plentiful for a team that finished with consecutive OAC wins as well its highest wins total (3) in over a decade. Six players garnered All-OAC recognition.

A pair of wide receivers, sophomores Itika Wynn Jr. and Luke Richardson, earned spots on the First Team Offense while a pair of defenders, juniors Tavion Bryant and Ameer Jackson, were named to the Second Team Defense. Finally, senior offensive lineman Nick Moore and junior safety Tre'Quez Parks were named Honorable Mention All-OAC.

Wynn Jr. led the Fightin' Quakers in receiving yards with 996 for an average of just shy of 100 yards per game, good for second in the OAC and top 40 in NCAA Division III. The Columbus, Ohio, native hauled in 62 passes for an average of 16.1 yards per catch to go along with 10 touchdowns. Wynn Jr. crossed the 100-yard plateau six times this season.

Richardson hauled in 27 receptions for 692 yards and five touchdowns. His 25.6 yards per catch are second in the nation this season.

Wynn Jr. and Richardson mark the first Fightin' Quaker duo to earn First Team All-OAC honors in the same season since Marque Jones and Wes Anders did in 2007.

Jackson and Bryant were two of Wilmington's three leading tacklers in 2019 as Jackson made 94 tackles including 52 of the solo variety while Bryant had 90 tackles and a team-best 11.5 for loss. Both tallied 1.5 sacks on the year and five pass breakups.

Parks, the other top tackles on the Quakers' defensive unit, made 93 tackles including two sacks from his safety position. The Columbus, Ohio, native forced two fumbles and had one interception.

Moore started all 10 games on Wilmington's offensive line and served as a captain in 2019. He aided the Quakers in becoming one of the best passing offenses in the region.

Finally, Dusty Lykins, Tyler Butcher, Brent Ponikvar and Nick Moore were named Academic All-OAC for holding cumulative GPA's of over 3.50.