NEW CONCORD -- Not since the 1996 season had the Muskingum University Fighting Muskies pitched a season-opening home shutout.
Muskingum had posted a 33-0 win over Denison University for its last home shutout in '96 and it had been since 2001 when they beat Mount St. Joseph by a 22-0 score on the road that they had won game one without allowing a point.
On Saturday, the Muskies' defense held the line and turned back the visiting Waynesburg Yellow Jackets on at least two opportunities to preserve a 19-0 season-opening victory in McConagha Stadium.
"The defensive side of the ball is our bread-and-butter," Muskingum coach Al Logan said. "This defensive unit has worked hard to get where they are and they have a shot to be a special defensive team. Our defense is ahead of the offense because there are some good players there and because of them we came away with the shutout today."
One of those golden opportunities for the Jackets was when a punt snap sailed over the head of punter Jarett Patton and he was tackled at the Muskingum nine-yard line. After a loss of one, the Yellow Jackets gained three to the seven but another rushing attempt resulted in a three-yard loss and an attempt to complete a fourth-down conversion resulted in an incomplete pass to keep the visitors off the board.
The Muskingum offense also had some missed opportunities early under the direction of freshman quarterback Brody Hahn, and the opening quarter ended in a stalemate at 0-0.
Late in the second round, the Yellow Jackets were forced to punt and after a seven-yard return by Darius Hayes-Carruth, the Muskies were hit with a 15-yard personal foul penalty to set them up in shop at their 42-yard line.
Hahn picked up seven yards on the first play and then hit Hayes-Carruth, who turned in an outstanding run to cover 43 yards to the Waynesburg eight, and the Yellow Jackets were flagged for a facemask penalty moving the ball to the four.
Tailback Bernard Johnson picked up two on the first play and Hahn covered the distance to the end zone on the next. Austin Alice (Maysville) split the uprights with just four ticks left in the half and the Muskies took a 7-0 lead to the locker room at the halftime break.
Alice added field goals of 28 and 27 yards, respectively, in the third round to up the margin to 13-0 heading to the final stanza.
In the fourth frame, Staci Wilson pounced on a Waynesburg fumble at the Muskingum 33-yard line and just two plays later, with 7:41 remaining in the contest, Johnson broke through the line and outran the defense 67 yards to the end zone for the touchdown. The snap for the PAT was bobbled and the holder was tackled providing the 19-0 final.
Logan utilized two quarterbacks -- senior Dilon Strine, who was the starter, and the freshman Hahn -- and he had to admit the Muskies missed out on some chances early in the game with fumbles, but were still able to come away with the 'W'.
"Both quarterbacks need to get better," Logan cautioned, "because we will need to use two quarterbacks. We also had some dropped passes which were critical in different series. We need some work on the kicking game, but anytime you start the season with a win, it is good."
The Muskingum offense amassed 283 yards (127 rushing, 156 passing), with Johnson leading the ground attack with 125 yards on 20 carries. Hahn tacked on 48 yards on 14 tries and completed 10-of-24 passes for an additional 140 yards. Strine was 2-for-2 via the air for 36 yards.
Hayes-Carruth paced the receiving corps with four catches totaling 61 yards with Damon Jones added two catches for 51 yards. Granger Long caught three balls for 24 yards and Johnson had two for 13.
Waynesburg had just 18 net yards rushing and added 96 through the air. Austin Wilson paced the rushing attack with 28 yards on 10 tries. Quarterback Tyler Perone was 11-of-36 passing for 95 yards, but suffered two interceptions. Garret Guthrie had two receptions for 55 yards and Jake Dougherty caught three balls for 20 yards.
NEXT -- Muskingum gets into Ohio Athletic Conference play on Saturday with a road trip to Westerville to face Otterbein University in a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.