By Richard Pera
It took a defensive stop on a two-point conversion and a fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter, but Kenyon Football held off a resilient DePauw University, 28-26, to claim its second win of the season and its first in front of a passionate home crowd.
The Lords (2-2, 2-1 conference) never trailed in the contest, taking a one-score lead with each of their four touchdowns.
The Tigers (0-3, 0-2) responded with scores of their own in subsequent drives, but a missed extra point in the third quarter forced a critical two-point conversion attempt, which was snuffed out by the Lords’ defense.
DePauw regained possession one last time after Kenyon failed to ice the game with a first down, and a few plays later, defensive lineman Cam Ventling ’14 recovered a Tiger fumble to complete the victory.
“I think [the win] helps put us back in a good place,” Co-Captain David Brackett ’14 said. “After Ohio Wesleyan [University (OWU) won last week], we could have let that get to us. We could have let OWU beat us twice. I think the win shows us that if we practice hard, we can play well and compete with everybody in the conference.”
For the first time since week one at Allegheny College, the Lords’ offense carried their share of the load. Quarterback Jake Bates ’15 went 17-25 for 187 yards and two touchdowns passes, including a nine-yard strike to fullback Blake Calcei ’16 and a 17-yard screen to Jibri McLean ’17.
Bates also rushed for 48 yards, keeping alive several of Kenyon’s lengthy scoring drives with vital scrambles. The Lords’ offensive line also showed noticeable improvement from a week ago, boosting their yards-per-carry average from 1.9 to 4.4 and conceding just one sack to DePauw, as opposed to eight against OWU.
“We were moving the ball and sustaining drives,” Head Coach Chris Monfiletto said. “There were a few three-and-outs in the third and fourth quarters, but we didn’t go three-and-out like the two games prior, and that was the biggest difference.
“We were able to move the ball down the field, control time of possession, and really do what we do offensively,” he said.
The Lords also boasted 100-percent efficiency in the red zone, aided by the threat of three players capable of playing quarterback.
All three scored on Saturday: Bates threw two touchdown passes, Calcei punched through the goal line from one yard out and wide receiver Jack Hanratty ’17 scampered for eight yards to paydirt. The different offensive packages challenged the DePauw defense, which the Lords successfully exploited.
The defense had an uncharacteristic afternoon. DePauw scored two touchdowns on plays of more than 50 yards, one each on the ground and through the air. The Lords surrendered 381 yards of total offense, but came through late in the game to preserve the Kenyon lead.
Defensive back Zach Morrow ’14 led the team with 11 tackles and Co-Captain Reed Franklin ’14 tallied 10 tackles. Linebacker Kolin Sullivan ’14 made his presence felt with four tackles for a loss, including a sack. Sullivan earned the North Coast Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week award for his performance.
The Lords will travel north to Oberlin College (1-2, 0-2 in conference) for a bellwether contest this Saturday, Oct. 5. Gametime is 1 p.m.
A victory over the Yeomen would not only earn Kenyon a winning record, but would prove the Lords are worthy of the top half of the conference.
The players expect a tough game.
“You’re going to see two really hungry teams who are ready to compete,” Brackett said. “I’m sure that they had this game circled on their calendar as a game they have to win. It’s going to be a dogfight.”