Led by the record-setting performances of Brian Hunca ’17 and Thomas Merkle ’20, Kenyon’s robust passing game put up staggering numbers against DePauw University. DePauw’s (4-1; NCAC 3-1) offense was up to the task, however, outlasting the Lords (3-3; NCAC 2-3) 48-35 in a high-scoring affair in Greencastle, Ind. Struggling to find similar offensive success against Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU; 2-3; NCAC 2-2) the following week, Kenyon football dropped a 25-17 match to OWU.
Facing a 17-0 deficit in the second quarter against DePauw, Nat Henry ’20 got his team on the scoreboard via a two-yard touchdown run to make the score 17-7. After DePauw increased their lead to 20-7 via a 30-yard field goal, the two teams traded touchdowns to end the first half. Facing a 27-14 deficit at the start of the second half, Merkle capped off an 18-play, 75-yard drive when he found Hunca on an inside slant route for a 14-yard touchdown, cutting the Tigers’ lead to six points.
That was as close as the Lords would get. DePauw’s offense responded with impunity, rattling off three unanswered touchdowns to extend their lead to 48-21. Ian Robertson ’19 caught two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, but his efforts proved futile as the Tigers came away with the 48-35 victory. In the loss, Merkle and Hunca set school records for single-game completions and single-game receptions, respectively.
In Saturday’s game, the Battling Bishops struck first to take a 7-0 lead in the second quarter. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the OWU one-yard line later in the second quarter, Merkle faked a handoff and bounced to the outside, diving just inside the left pylon to put the Lords on the scoreboard. Converting on a 33-yard field goal attempt before the end of the first half, OWU closed out the half with a 10-7 lead and increased their lead to 17-7 after returning the second half kickoff back for a touchdown.
To start the fourth quarter, Szabi Simo ’17 cut OWU’s lead to 17-10 with a 31-yard field goal. On the first play of Kenyon’s next drive, Merkle silenced the OWU crowd with a 68-yard bomb to Hunca, who raced into the endzone for the game-tying touchdown.
Taking the lead for good with just over five minutes remaining, OWU made the score 25-17 via a 52-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion.
The Lords worked their way into OWU territory on their next drive, but they turned the ball over on downs with 40 seconds left in regulation when they failed to convert on a fourth-and-ten from the OWU 17-yard line.
Kenyon football returns home on Saturday to take on Wabash College (4-1; NCAC 3-1), ranked 21st in the nation in Division III football, on McBride Field at 1 p.m.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, Head Coach Chris Monfiletto hopes to bring about some parity between the Lords’ ability to posses the football and their ability to put points on the scoreboard.
“We’ve got to continue to move the football and possess the football, but the one thing about Saturday was that we had the ball for 85 plays and 37 minutes and we came away with 17 points, and there’s a dissonance there,” Monfiletto said. “It’s not that we can’t move the football, it’s just that we can’t get it in the endzone to the amount that you think you’d see out of running 85 plays.”