11/13/2007 2:30:00 AM DEPAUW UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL: Walker etches name into lore
Photo provided by DePauw University
DePauw University football coach and Crawfordsville High School graduate Matt Walker talks to reporters after winning Saturday’s Monon Bell game, his first as a head coach.
Crawfordsville High School graduate Matt Walker etched his name into the DePauw football record book with his team's stunning 24-21 victory.
Walker became the first person at DePauw University to ever play and coach on a winning Monon Bell football team.
Walker concluded his second full season as the Tigers' head coach with a thrilling 24-21 victory Saturday afternoon when sophomore transfer placekicker Jordan Havercamp attempted just his second collegiate field goal, and his first of the season, and converted on a 47-yarder as time expired to lift the Tigers (8-2) over No. 9 Wabash (9-1).
Ironically, the game was the second game in the last six years to be decided on the final play. Both occurred at Blackstock Stadium and both in the north end zone.
On Nov. 10, 2001, Wabash won on the famous Ryan Short tipped pass to Kurt Casper to produce a 27-21 win for the Little Giants.
"This is an incredible feeling,' Walker said. "I'm not sure it has set in yet. I just know that my guys battled to the very end and did what they had to do. This would not have been possible without them giving 110 percent for 60 minutes and our coaching staff, as well. I can't take credit because it was the entire team and coaching staff that made this happen."
Winning his first Monon Bell game in just his second year was nice. But which is better − winning as a coach or as a player?
"They are both pretty are sweet," he said. "You'll take them either way and you'll enjoy it because winning this game is so special."
The victory did not come easy for the Tigers and Walker and there were several tough calls to be made by the coaching staff − including what plays to run on the final drive.
"We didn't know what to do on that final drive," Walker said, referring to the Tigers taking over on their own 4-yard line with 1:23 to play. "We had to be careful. (Wabash) still had a couple of timeouts so we couldn't get real conservative, but we didn't want to give them the ball back either. Our coaching staff was looking at one another and finally I it hit me that I was the head coach and had to made a decision."
The decision was to try to grind out a first down, and after that happened they would open up the offense a little.
DePauw got the first down and drove the ball to the Wabash 29 with just 2.4 seconds to play.
Then, Walker made his toughest decision - making the call of who should kick the field goal. DePauw's usual field goal kicker - junior Brendan Smith - had missed a 25-yard attempt in the first half. Walker went with Havercamp, who had not attempted a field goal all season and had missed his only attempt last year at Denison.
Walker said there was not much discussion on who would attempt the final attempt.
"Smith had been in a little slump, so we went with Jordan," Walker said. "We had all the confidence in the world in him even though he had missed an extra point in the second half. We wouldn't put a kid out there if we didn't think he had a shot. It was just one of those tough calls you have to make as the head coach and under the same circumstances I would have made it against no matter if Jordan made of missed it. It was the right call at that time.
"It's just unbelievable, unbelievable. It doesn't get any bigger than this. A 47-yard field goal to end the game in the Monon Bell."
The victory drew DePauw to within one game of tying the overall series, which Wabash leads 53-52-9. The dramatic finish also secured a spot on ESPN Saturday as the seventh best "Play of the Day" segment.