By Richard Pera
Down by four points, Hiram College had driven all the way to the Kenyon six-yard line with just over two minutes remaining. With the game on the line and supported by a rambunctious home crowd, the Lords proceeded to hold the Terriers on the ensuing four plays, standing their ground and preserving the lead. Kenyon held out for a 20-16 victory, its third win in a row, this past Saturday, Oct. 12.
The Lords dominated time of possession by running for 264 yards and snapping 84 total plays. The running game helped keep the Terrier offense off the field and the Lords defense well-rested, especially in the second half. Despite finding success in the running game, the team struggled mightily to complete drives. Kenyon was an abysmal one for four on fourth down conversions, including three failed attempts in the red zone. Quarterback Jake Bates ’15 struggled throughout the afternoon, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble.
“All three turnovers are easily correctable,” Head Coach Chris Monfiletto said. “This is the fifth game [Bates] has started at quarterback, so he’s going to get better at that as he gets more and more comfortable playing that position.”
The Lords, however, were able to hit paydirt three times. Bates threw two touchdown passes, one to fullback Blake Calcei ’16 in the first quarter and the other to wide receiver Brian Hunca ’17 in the third quarter. Running back Brandon January ’15 had a career day, totaling 181 yards and a third quarter touchdown on 28 carries. Hiram was simply unable to find an answer for January’s ability to break tackles and get into the second level, particularly in the second half.
“[January] obviously stood out,” Monfiletto said. “He’s ludicrous. He had a bunch of carries and 181 yards, but six yards a clip? That’s [January’s] potential, and it was nice to see him play to his potential. We need that more consistently.”
The Kenyon defense had one of its typical “bend but don’t break” afternoons. After conceding two touchdowns in the first half, including a 76-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage, the Lords buckled down and stayed there. The Terriers only managed to score three points in the second half and were 4-15 on third down throughout the game. Defensive lineman Ryan Rosen ’14 and defensive back Stuart Brown ’14 each intercepted a pass, and five players tallied a team-high six tackles apiece while the defense combined for 10 tackles for a loss.
With a mix of struggle and success on Saturday, the Lords remain confident that they can improve heading into the final four games of the season. “We just need to perfect our practices and improve from the last game to this [coming] game,” January said. “We can correct our mistakes.”
Kenyon (4-2, 4-1 North Coast Athletic Conference) will travel to Crawfordsville, Ind. this Saturday, Oct. 19 to play undefeated Wabash College, which is ranked 16th nationally. The Lords defeated the Little Giants just one time in program history: a 7-0 road win in 1942. Wabash has dominated the eight meetings since, last defeating Kenyon 49-0 in 2011.
It will be a daunting task for the Lords, but Monfiletto is confident that his team will be ready.
“We’re going to eliminate turnovers, because you can’t turn the ball over three times against a really good team and expect to beat them,” Monfiletto said. “We’re getting better every game.”