By Richard Pera
It was an afternoon the Lords would prefer to forget.
On Saturday in Crawfordsville, Ind., Kenyon was dismantled by Wabash College by a score of 48-7. The undefeated Little Giants, ranked 16th nationally, dominated nearly every facet of the game, scoring six touchdowns and holding the Lords to just 172 yards of total offense. The loss put Kenyon (4-3, 4-2 North Coast Athletic Conference) in serious jeopardy of losing the conference title race.
The offense just couldn’t get going on Saturday. Kenyon moved the chains for the first time midway through the second quarter. The Lords were an abysmal 1-11 on third down and the Wabash defense held their running attack to just 81 yards. As a result, the Lords failed to control time of possession, allowing the Little Giants to run for 316 yards and dominate the pace of play.
There were, however, some bright momnts for Kenyon. The Lords finally got on the scoresheet in the fourth quarter with a long drive capped off by a two-yard score by fullback Blake Calcei ’16.
Perhaps the most heartening statistic of the day was that Kenyon did not commit a single turnover ﾗ the first time that has happened since Week One against Allegheny College.
“I think there were times when we looked like we could compete with them,” Head Coach Chris Monfiletto said. “We had that 11-play, 80-yard drive. They punted the ball a couple of times and we forced them into some bad situations defensively. Early in the game, I thought that we were pretty competitive with them. Then they hit some big plays and kind of wore us out.”
The Kenyon defense played toe-to-toe with Wabash in the beginning of the contest, only conceding one score in the first quarter and stuffing an early fourth down attempt. For the remaining 45 minutes, however, the Lords struggled to get off the field. Wabash averaged a gain of 7.5 yards per play, coming through with huge gains that propelled them to the red zone, where they managed 100 percent efficiency.
The Lords were playing with a depleted secondary, as defensive backs Alec McQuiston ’16, out due to an appendectomy, and Stuart Brown ’14, with a minor concussion, were unable to play.
Defensive coaches shifted Co-Captain Reed Franklin ’14 from linebacker to safety and other defensive backs on the depth chart filled necessary roles. Despite some encouraging moments, the Lords never looked comfortable on defense.
“The game felt closer than what the score indicates,” said defensive back Jamar Chichester ’14, who co-led the team in tackles with nine. “Defensively, we had a great game plan going in and for the most part, they did everything we expected them to do. But they were able to execute on the few minor mistakes we made.”
Offensively, running back Brandon January ’15 led the team on the ground with just 36 yards. Quarterback Jake Bates ’15 went 10-20 for 91 yards. Defensively, the Lords failed to force any turnovers, but did tally 13 tackles for a loss, including a sack credited to linebacker Kolin Sullivan ’14.
The Lords will play another nationally ranked team on Saturday when they host No. 18 Wittenberg University, kicking off on McBride Field at 2 p.m. The Lords know they face another daunting task, but plan to learn from their mistakes against Wabash.
“We have to be able to sustain offensive drives and to avoid giving up the big plays, defensively,” Monfiletto said. “If we can control time of possession, then we can at least put ourselves in a position to be competitive.”
Kenyon has not defeated Wittenberg in 99 years, with the last victory coming by way of a 12-0 score in Springfield, Ohio in 1914. The Tigers stand unbeaten against the Lords in their last 24 meetings.
“If we’re going to beat the number 18 team in the country, we’re going to need everybody’s help to do it,” Monfiletto said. “We’re not going to be able to do that ourselves. This is a big deal, and it should be a big deal for everybody. We’ve got a chance to shock the world.”