In the 87th edition of one of college football’s oldest rivalries, Lords football (2-0; NCAC 1-0) trounced Oberlin College 45-16 on Saturday. Slowing Oberlin’s up-tempo spread offense, the Lords’ defense gave their own offense ample time on the field to carry out an absolute rout of the Yeomen (0-2; NCAC 0-1).
Oberlin got on the scoreboard first with a field goal, but the Lords capitalized on their favorable field position to erase the 3-0 deficit before the end of the first quarter. Finishing off a drive that began at midfield, Ian Bell ’18 followed his blockers into the end zone on a seven-yard touchdown run, giving the Lords a 7-3 lead.
Setting up shop at Oberlin’s 43-yard line midway through the second quarter, quarterback Thomas Merkle ’20 wasted no time in getting his team back in scoring position. Taking to the air on the first play of the drive, Merkle fired a 39-yard dart down the middle of the field to Bell, giving Kenyon a first-and-goal. Two plays later, Merkle called his own number and dove into the end zone from one yard out to increase Kenyon’s lead to 14-3.
Widening the gap between themselves and the Yeomen, Kenyon used their final possession of the half to take a 21-3 advantage. Rolling out to the Kenyon sideline with less than one minute to play, Merkle lofted up a 37-yard pass that sailed over the heads of the Oberlin defenders and into the hands of Co-Captain Brian Hunca ’17, who reeled in the catch in the end zone for the score.
Despite holding a comfortable lead at halftime, the Lords entered the locker room hungry for more. “We just talked about treating it like it was 0-0,” Head Coach Chris Monfiletto said. “I think our guys wanted to score as many points as they possible could against them, so I think that in and of itself was enough motivation for them for the second half.”
Intent on getting themselves back in the game, the Yeomen began the second half with an impressive kickoff return, giving them a first down on Kenyon’s 32-yard line. With such a short field ahead of them, Oberlin’s offense found the end zone in just four plays to cut Kenyon’s lead to 21-10.
Igniting the Kenyon offense on the ensuing possession, Nat Henry ’20 charged through a hole in the Oberlin front-seven on an electrifying 68-yard run. Finishing off the drive in style, Bell provided the Kenyon faithful with a highlight-reel touchdown catch: Unencumbered by the Oberlin defender clinging to his back, Bell rose up and used just one hand to haul in a four-yard touchdown pass from Merkle to make the score 28-10.
Though Oberlin managed to score one more touchdown before the end of the third quarter, the Lords responded by freezing out the Yeomen in the final 15 minutes of play. Registering his first field goal of the season, Szabi Simo ’17 increased Kenyon’s lead to 31-17 with 11 minutes, 31 seconds left in regulation. Facing a fourth-and-three on Kenyon’s next offensive possession, Hunca caught a short pass from Merkle on a quick slant and raced into the endzone for a 29-yard touchdown.
Putting an exclamation point on a dominant performance by the Kenyon Lords, Joe Marabito ’17 picked off an errant Oberlin pass behind the line of scrimmage and returned the interception 57 yards for a touchdown, bringing the score to 45-16.
The Lords will face their first road test of the season when they travel to Hiram, Ohio to take on the Hiram College Terriers (0-1; NCAC 0-0) Saturday at 1 p.m.