In recent years, the crowds at Don Shula Stadium shrunk as John Carroll University’s football team underwent a rebuilding phase.
But after two dominating wins on the road to start the season, the Blue Streaks had a chance to make an impression in front of over 3,100 fans on Saturday evening.
They did not disappoint.
The defense recorded seven sacks as the Blue Streaks blanked the Otterbein University Cardinals, 28-0, in front of a raucous crowd during Homecoming weekend.
“The win meant a lot,” sophomore defensive tackle Dave Porter said. “It was the first time we were able to show the fans what we were about.”
It was a night of distractions for JCU. Between Homecoming festivities, head coach Tom Arth’s Hall of Fame induction and the bright lights of Shula Stadium, the Blue Streaks could have easily tripped up under the pressure.
Instead, they rolled over an Otterbein team that was picked to finish above them in the Ohio Athletic Conference. It was also the second straight week in which the Blue Streaks defense forced a starting quarterback out of the game due to lack of production.
To start off the game, both teams drove deep down the field on their first possessions only to come up empty-handed on missed field goals.
On JCU’s second drive, the offense flexed its muscles. Junior Mark Myers fooled everyone in the stands on the first play, hitting freshman Marshall Howell on a play-action pass 55 yards down the field.
Three plays later, Myers connected with Howell again, this time a 20-yard strike down the middle of the field for six points.
The Blue Streaks struck again less than a minute into the second quarter. On a first-and-goal from the 3-yard line, senior DaQuan Grobsmith took the handoff and punched it in for his second rushing touchdown of the season.
The senior would record his third rushing score of the season just four minutes later. Grobsmith took a toss from Myers at Otterbein’s 37-yard line, ducked behind his blockers, then exploded down the sideline. He outran four Cardinals before crossing the plane in the corner of the endzone.
Grobsmith would finish with just 59 yards on the day, but his two biggest carries took Otterbein out of the game before halftime.
After the half, Otterbein benched quarterback Ben Sizemore in favor of backup Brick Davis. Sizemore left with 98 passing yards and no points to show for his effort. Davis performed even worse, finishing with 84 yards through the air against the stingy JCU defense.
Porter led the strong effort on defense, recording two sacks. Senior Matt Feeney was also a constant presence in the backfield, racking up nine total tackles.
“It’s an honor to be part of a group of people that you care about so much,” Porter said about the defense. “It’s even more of an honor when the group is successful.”
Myers would cap off the scoring with a second touchdown pass to Howell in the corner of the end zone from 11 yards out with six minutes to go in the third quarter.
The signal caller finished with 226 passing yards and two touchdowns on 26-of-40 passing.
Otterbein was unable to capitalize on any of its long, sustained drives. Eventually, the Cardinals were content to run out the clock themselves to avoid giving up any more points.
The win was the second shutout of the season for the Blue Streaks, who have allowed just seven points in the first three games of the year.
“I felt great about the victory,” Porter said. “It’s always feels good to win, and it makes you one step closer to your goals.”
On Sunday, D3football.com released its weekly top-25 ranking for Division III. The Blue Streaks were ranked No. 24, marking their first national ranking since 2007.