Sophomore quarterback Max Paulus (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson) threw for three touchdowns and rushed for a fourth helping the Denison Big Red defeat Earlham College 41-20 on Saturday from Deeds Field-Piper Stadium.
Making just his second career start, Paulus finished the day 21-of-37 for 258 yards and three touchdowns to three separate receivers. His 258 yards were the most passing yards by a Denison quarterback since Larry Cappetto threw for 365 yards against Hiram College in 2005. The victory also marks the first time since 1990 that Denison has started a season 2-0.
After the two teams failed to score in the opening quarter, the Big Red broke through early in the second quarter thanks to a 28-yard field goal by senior Kevin Schneider (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington). The Denison defense would force the Quakers into a three-and-out situation and junior Drew Clanin (Circleville, Ohio/Circleville) returned the Andy Jackson punt 36 yards to the Quaker 34-yard line.
On a short field, Paulus quickly hit Andy Carpenter (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) and Jeff Cochran (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson) on gains of 13 and 9 yards, respectively. On first-and-goal from the 10-yard line sophomore Sam Fioroni (Clarkston, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary's) scored his first of what would be three touchdowns.
Following another three-and-out, Paulus would hit Carpenter for a 36-yard gain on the first play of the drive. Three plays later Paulus would bootleg to the right and pirouette to his left to find Dan Crawford (Upper Arlington, Ohio/Upper Arlington) who was sitting right at the line of scrimmage with a clear path into the end zone from 18-yards away, giving DU a 22-0 lead with 1:25 to play.
The Quakers would score just five seconds before halftime on a 27-yard pass from Dorian Jenkins to Kyle Ripperger cutting the Denison lead to 22-7.
The first two drives of the third quarter would occur without points and on Denison's second possession of the half they found themselves deep in Earlham territory. A fumble on the 12-yard line gave the Quakers the football but on a 3rd-and-10 from their own 8-yard line, Jenkins had his pass intercepted by sophomore Cale Garverick (Powell, Ohio/Olengangy Liberty).
Paulus would convert the Denison offense's next possession by hitting Carpenter for a 4-yard touchdown pass to give Denison a 28-7 lead.
In the fourth quarter the Quakers would score twice but Fioroni reached paydirt on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Paulus and with 2:11 to play, Paulus finished things off with a quarterback keeper from 1-yard out.
The Denison offense piled up 440-yards while limiting the Earlham offense to 247 yards. It was a balanced attack that saw the Denison rushing duo of Crawford and Fioroni combine for 185 yards on the ground. Crawford was the workhorse, carrying the ball 25 times for 117 yards. It marked the third career 100-yard rushing day for Crawford and his first since 2007. Fioroni provided the big plays, finishing with 68 yards off only seven carries. He also caught two passes for 33 yards.
In the receiving game the story began and ended with Carpenter who finished with a career-high 10 catches for 138 yards. The last time a Denison player had 10 or more receptions in a game happened in 2004. That distinction belonged to current co-defensive coordinator Zack Brent who racked up 11 catches for 117 yards in a victory over Gettysburg that season.
Defensively, sophomore safety Alex Sycher (Columbus, Ohio/New Albany) led the way with 10 tackles. Garverick finished with five tackles, one interception and two tackles for a loss. Sophomore Nat Kell (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) also had five tackles with 1.5 sacks.
Earlham was held to just 62 yards rushing off 33 attempts. Jenkins finished 14-of-24 for 117 yards and three TD passes.
The Big Red will look to keep their winning streak alive next week when they hit the road for a 1 p.m. North Coast Athletic Conference match-up at Hiram College.