Section: Football

Lords defense struggles in Senior Day shootout, Merkle reaches 10,000 yards

Though the Lords football team’s Saturday game against Wittenberg College was one of their most competitive in three decades against the D-III powerhouse, in the end they failed to defeat the Tigers, falling 43-27.

The Lords got off to another slow start, falling behind 20-0 after the first quarter, marking the eighth of their nine games in which the opponent has scored first. However, as the second quarter commenced, the tide began to turn.

Fresh off a nine-play 68-yardtouchdown drive to shrink the Wittenberg lead to 20-7, the Lords caught a break on a fumble recovery off a botched Wittenberg punt. The Lords had the ball nine yards away from the end zone. However, a sack on third down forced the Lords to set up for a 33-yard field goal attempt, on the edge of kicker Willie Johnson’s ’23 range. In one of the bolder play calls of this season, Lords holder Gage Anzulavich ’22 took the fake and tossed it downfield to 276-pound defensive tackle Trevor Brown ’20, who drew a pass interference call in the end zone that placed the ball at the Wittenberg 2-yard line.

After three failed attempts, the Lords were facing a 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line. To the visible dismay of many players on the sideline, the Lords decided to line up for the 20-yard field goal attempt instead of going for the touchdown. The play backfired, with Wittenberg blocking the kick and returning it  or a touchdown. Instead of being down by six as they would have been had they converted a touchdown, the Lords were down 20 after the block-and-score. They would never have the ball in Wittenberg territory with a chance to close the game to a one-score lead again.

The game also marked Senior Day for the Lords. The miraculous appearance of Chase Kirol ’20, after an apparent season-ending injury last month, transformed the offensive line and helped quarterback Thomas Merkle ’20 become the second quarterback in NCAC history—and the first in Kenyon history—to pass for 10,000 career yards.

On Saturday, the Lords will play their final game of the 2019 season against the Denison University Big Red in Granville, Ohio at 1 p.m. They will attempt to break the Big Red’s 14-game winning streak against the Lords, which dates back to 2006.


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