On Oct. 5, the Lords football team traveled to Oberlin College with their sights set on their third win of the season and on reclaiming their winning record. In a tight game, linebacker Michael Picone’s ’21 heroic pick-six with three minutes remaining helped the Lords secure a 12-7 victory, spoiling Oberlin’s homecoming game.
While both team’s defenses are having their best seasons in nearly a decade, the Lords came in with a banged-up offensive line that had limited them to three touchdowns over their last three games. On the other hand, the Yeomen had yet to score a touchdown on the season before facing the Lords. Entering the game, both teams were prepared for a defensive struggle.
Early on, the game lived up to the hype. The Lords offense looked promising in their first drive, methodically driving down the field until they arrived at the Oberlin 10-yard line. On 3rd-and-6, a pass bounced off the hands of wide receiver Andrew Schnarre ’23 into the waiting arms of Oberlin’s Jabree Hanson in the end zone.
From that point on, both offenses struggled to gain any momentum. When Oberlin had their first promising drive to start the second quarter, Sam Dickey ’20 forced a fumble in the red zone which was then recovered by Picone.
On the next Oberlin drive, cornerback Nathan Junk ’23 picked the ball near midfield, setting up the Lords offense to drive down the field and score their only offensive touchdown of the game: a Thomas Merkle ’20 pass to tight end Matt Jolliffe ’20. However, the extra point was missed by Willie Johnson ’23 in his first career attempt. The interception matched the Lords’ season-high two takeaways by halftime, although before the game, defensive coordinator Ian Good said, “our goal is three [turnovers] per game, which is lofty, but that’s what we expect.”
The third turnover that Good was looking for turned out to be the pivotal point of the game. While attempting to kill the clock in the late stages of the game, running back Eddie Pozo ’20 lost a fumble, which two plays later led Oberlin to their first touchdown of the season and a 7-6 lead.
With exactly three minutes to go, Oberlin dropped back to pass on 3rd-and-10 from the Lords’ 42-yard line. An ill-advised attempt by Yeoman quarterback Zach Taylor was picked off by Picone. Immediately thinking about returning the ball to the house, Picone channeled his energy from his days as a high school running back, making three Yeomen miss during his 61-yard run back for the touchdown. For his effort on this play and throughout the game, Picone was named NCAC Defensive Player of the Week.
In the ensuing drive, the Lords virtually sealed the game with their fourth takeaway, this time an interception near midfield by cornerback Jimmy Lane ’22. Not only had the Lords met Good’s self-proclaimed “lofty” goals—they had surpassed them.
“We finally exceeded expectations,” Picone said. “We know what we need to do every week, and we did that plus a little bit.”
However, despite the lack of time remaining after Lane’s interception, the Yeomen’s two timeouts gave them the chance to receive the ball with 20 seconds remaining. That was when Grayson Lawrence ’22 finished out one of the best days a punter can hope for. With the Yeomen rushing all 11 players in an attempt to block the punt, Lawrence placed the ball right at the lip of the end zone, where it was downed at the 1-yard line. This was the fifth of Lawrence’s seven punts to be downed within the 20-yard line and the second of his punts to travel 50 yards or greater. For his performance, Lawrence became the first ever Lords special teams player to appear on the d3football.com Team of the Week.
On Saturday, the Lords will travel to Meadville, Pa. to take on the 0- 5 Allegheny College Gators at 1 p.m. Despite their record, the Lords will not be underestimating Allegheny, as the Gators are slightly favored in their game due to having faced incredibly difficult opponents up to this point.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jimmy Andrews ’21 fumbled the ball for the Lords in the 4th quarter, when upon further review the official scorer was wrong and it was in fact Eddie Pozo ’20.