By Richard Pera
Things couldn’t have started off worse for the Kenyon Lords.
Wittenberg University, which leads the conference in total yards per game, jumped to a 21-0 lead behind its potent offense and never looked back, beating Kenyon 38-7. The Lords struggled to move the ball early on, totaling five three-and-outs before finally earning a first down midway through the second quarter.
After the first quarter ended, Kenyon’s playing improved. Jake Bates ’15 led a 78-yard drive capped off by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Blake Calcei ’16, giving the Lords momentum.
The Lords defense pressured the Tiger offense with outstanding penetration from the defensive line. The Kenyon defense had four sacks ﾗ matching the total number of sacks conceded by Wittenberg in its first six games.
Kolin Sullivan ’13 led the Lords with 12 tackles, four for a loss and two-and-a-half sacks. Co-Captain Reed Franklin ’14 added 10 tackles and Brad Couts ’14 recovered a fumble.
Though the defense had its successes, the offense failed to sustain and complete drives. A 33-yard missed field goal in the third quarter and a turnover on downs on the one-yard line early in the fourth quarter left 10 points out on the field. Aided by a missed delay-of-game call, the Tigers tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass on third down to go up 31-7. On the next drive, Bates tossed an interception that was returned 76 yards for a touchdown.
The Lords’ anemic offense, a recurring problem this season, was evident on Saturday. Kenyon managed 15 first downs on the afternoon, but went just 3-14 on third down. Bates finished 17-27 for 150 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Brian Hunca ’17 led the Lords with seven catches for 64 yards.
“We need to take the next step,” Head Coach Chris Monfiletto said. “The expectations have changed. [Being] 4-4 at this point in the season is not good enough. And we had an opportunity to be at least 5-3 right now, and that’s what’s frustrating.”
The team now has a bye week to refresh and refocus on its final two opponents ﾗ the College of Wooster and Denison University. Wooster visits Gambier on Nov. 9, and the Lords visit Denison for the season finale. Despite back-to-back lopsided losses, Kenyon remains focused on the present challenge.
“The thing that makes me feel good about the rest of the season is that we have a huge amount to play for, not just for our [senior] class, but for the future classes of Kenyon and the direction of the program,” Sullivan said. “My class was 0-20 before Coach Monfiletto got here and that was just a miserable feeling. We go right to a winning season, 6-4, which is awesome. If we win our next two games, that’s two winning seasons after going 0-20. That’s obviously something to play for.”