The Lords football team lost their homecoming game and home opener this weekend to the Wittenberg University Tigers. The 48-11 loss dropped their overall record to 0-4 and their North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) record to 0-3.
Throughout the first half, the Lords were competitive against Wittenberg, which is ranked 13th in Division III. The Lords started out strong, scoring a touchdown on the opening drive and a two-point conversion on a fake extra point attempt and taking an 8-0 lead. They were only down 21-11 after hitting a late field goal. The Tigers took the ball down the field in 52 seconds, and thanks to six red zone penalties against the Lords, the Tigers were able to score a last second touchdown to take a 28-11 halftime lead.
After halftime, Wittenberg dominated the game. The Lords offense only had 227 yards, 241 of which came through the air. The Lords lost a total of 14 yards on the ground, including five sacks of quarterback Thomas Merkle ’20 for a total of 42 lost yards. Merkle said the sacks were due to “a combination of” the Wittenberg pass rush, his own offensive line and his inability to get rid of the ball in time.
The Lords struggled on the defensive side as well. The front four were unable to record a single sack and let the Tigers run for 203 yards on 37 attempts, with the Tigers’ backs often getting into the secondary.
The top two tacklers for the Lords were defensive backs Curt Williams ’18 and Michael Picone ’21, something uncommon for football teams. The usual top tacklers are the linebackers and the defensive linemen, especially when the opposition rushes more than they pass because they start the closest to the ball.
The Wittenberg attack was so balanced that the Lords struggled to find their footing. The Tigers handed the ball off 34 times while dropping back 33 times. The balance in their offense left Kenyon guessing and unable to execute their plays. “We weren’t aligning, we weren’t reading the right reads and at times we weren’t competing enough,” starting defensive back Jorge Spagnuolo ’20 said.
Individually, wide receiver Ian Robertson ’19 had a breakout game, doubling his season total in yards with 107 on 12 receptions.
Reflecting on their season, the Lords realized that they did not start the way they had hoped. But coming into their bye this week, and with some winnable games coming up afterward, the Lords believe that they can still come out with some positives from this season. “We’ve had a tough schedule so far,” said Merkle. “We are approaching the second half like an entirely new season, taking each game one at a time and not focusing on our record.”
Starting defensive tackle Trevor Brown ’20 also expressed optimism about the rest of the season. “The team still has a great outlook on the remainder of the season,” Brown said. “We’re going in with just one goal and that’s to win every game.”