On Saturday, in front of a crowd of parents and relatives visiting for Family Weekend, Kenyon football welcomed to campus the Wabash College Little Giants, nationally ranked No. 21 in Division-III football by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).
Stifling the Little Giants’ (5-1; NCAC 4-1) running game, the Lords’ (3-4; NCAC 2-4) defense held Wabash to their second-lowest output of the season in both total points and total offensive yards. Unfortunately, Wabash’s defense proved even tougher to beat, keeping Kenyon’s offense in check en route to a 24-3 victory.
Kenyon defended well against the run and forced Wabash to punt on their first two possessions. The Little Giants, failing to find success on the ground, went to the air to take a 7-0 lead later in the first quarter. Wabash’s quarterback lofted up a pass into the back of the end zone and connected with one of his wide receivers for a 15-yard touchdown reception.
Facing a stout defense, Kenyon’s offense struggled to get out of their own end of the field in the first half.
“In those games, the one-on-one matchups that you have are not going to be favorable for you because they have really good players, so in order for us to have success offensively, we needed to sustain drives and string together two to three first downs,” Head Coach Chris Monfiletto said. “We weren’t able to do that, and you could see the result of that in our field position.”
After a booming punt from Szabi Simo ’17, Wabash took over at their own seven-yard line, and the Kenyon defense took the opportunity to force a quick three-and-out and bring about a substantial change in field position. Wabash’s offense had other ideas: The Little Giants took a 14-0 lead via a 17-play, 93-yard scoring drive that included three third down conversions and one fourth down conversion. With one more field goal at the end of the second quarter, Wabash went into halftime with a 17-0 lead over the Lords.
Kenyon’s defense, after spending a substantial portion of the first half on the field, started to show fatigue and gave way at last to Wabavsh’s highly-touted running game. Pounding the ball relentlessly on the ground in their first possession of the second half, Wabash increased their lead to 24-0 after a nine-yard touchdown run.
After the ensuing kickoff, Kenyon’s offense began to consistently pick up yardage through the air. Helped along by four Wabash penalties to keep their drive alive, the Lords worked their way into the red zone, and Simo converted on a 27-yard field goal attempt to get Kenyon on the scoreboard. The Lords marched into Wabash territory two more times in the fourth quarter, but both drives ended in failed fourth-down conversions. The Kenyon defense bore down on the Wabash offense and held the Little Giants scoreless for the remainder of the second half in the 24-3 loss.
The loss brings Kenyon’s loss streak to three, and the Lords now sit at seventh in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) standings.
With no game scheduled this Saturday, the Lords will have the chance to rest before travelling to The College of Wooster (2-4; NCAC 2-3) on Oct. 29 to take on the Fighting Scots at 1 p.m.