CRAWFORDSVILLE — Tyler Holmes wasn’t coming off the field. Not in this game. Not with the Monon Bell on the line and a chance for Wabash College to beat archrival DePauw University. Not on a fourth down play.
So even after running on five of six plays and wobbling to the huddle, Holmes waved off another running back coming into the game and lined up again.
And he delivered a five-yard first down run. Then three plays later he got Wabash a touchdown on a nine-yard run.
Those runs were just a few yards of the Bluffton native and junior’s banner day as Wabash beat DePauw 23-0 in the 119th Monon Bell Classic.
“(Holmes) doesn’t stop for anything. When he’s hurt, when he’s tired, he has the heart of a champion and the ground game is his here,” Wabash quarterback Chase Belton said.
Throughout the game, Holmes was consistently called upon and ran right into the middle of the DePauw defense. His number was called 33 times in total as he rushed for 169 yards to go along with his one touchdown.
It was a massive day that capped off his year. For the season, Holmes rushed for 1067 yards to become the first Little Giant to have a 1000-yard season since 2003 and 11th in school history.
“It’s special. It’s a milestone any running back shoots for throughout the season, and I just feel privileged to be able to celebrate with my friends and family here, and the offensive line and the whole team,” Holmes said.
The season happened for Holmes despite dealing with injuries and seeing other running backs go down with injuries. It forced him into a bigger role the past few weeks and especially Saturday.
“Every week we aren’t sure if (Holmes) is going to be able to play on Saturday, but he guts it out and does a great job for us, and I’m real proud of how he did (today),” Wabash head coach Erik Raeburn said.
The massive day for Holmes allowed Wabash to control the clock and eventually wear down the DePauw defense. The Little Giants had the ball for almost 40 minutes of the game, and after being held to nine points in the first half; they found the end zone twice in the second half.
The win gave the Wabash seniors its fourth straight victory in the series. They are the first group to do that since 1979 for the school, and it’s something they will likely always remember. It’s also something Holmes hopes to replicate in his final Bell game next season.
“Their whole lives Wabash alums are going to ask, ‘What’s your record in the Bell game?’ and they are going to be able to say 4-0,” Holmes said. “Have to feel fantastic for them.”