The Kenyon football team picked up its first win of the season against Hiram College on Sept. 30, before falling to Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) on Saturday. The Owls are now 1-5 (1-3 NCAC) on the season.
Kenyon opened the scoring in its Homecoming game against Hiram. Running back Jordon Benjamin ’26, who earned NCAC Offensive Player of the Week honors, led the Owls downfield on their first possession of the game, picking up 39 rushing yards and the first of two touchdowns. Benjamin, who finished the day with 152 rushing yards, credited his teammates for the award. “I think it’s a cool title to have but without the [offensive line (O-line)] and their blocking there would be no run game,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian. “I always want my praise and success to go to the O-line and everyone blocking for me.”
Kenyon doubled its lead to open the second quarter, as Henry Wendorf ’27 connected with Dylan Carlquist ’26 on a 39-yard passing touchdown. Down 14-0, the Terriers did not go away easily, cutting the deficit to five points after a field goal and a touchdown. Though the Owls’ final possession of the quarter started strong, they settled for a field goal to lead 17-9 at halftime.
After stalling out on the first possession of the second half, Kenyon rode the momentum of a Hiram fumble that pinned the Terriers’ defense at their own 25-yard line. The Owls again relied on the running game, as Benjamin’s gains on the ground drove a possession that Nolan Dirks ’27 capped off with his first collegiate touchdown. Kenyon’s defense stifled Hiram, keeping the Terriers off the board and even tacking on a safety in the third quarter, as the Owls’ offense grew the lead to 33-9 heading into the game’s final frame. Each team added on a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Kenyon came away with a well-earned 40-16 Homecoming victory.
For Dirks, who had two touchdowns and ran for 88 yards against the Terriers, Homecoming Weekend made the victory and his first touchdowns especially sweet. “Scoring a collegiate touchdown has always been a dream of mine since I started playing when I was eight, and being able to score twice, on Homecoming, with my family there cheering meant everything,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian. “My teammates’ reactions were amazing and made the game so much more memorable.”
Benjamin hopes that the team can use its win against Hiram to find success throughout the season. “[The win] meant that we can do it,” he said. “Losing four straight games isn’t easy for anybody in any sport but this win told us that we absolutely do have the power to beat teams and we just need to be focused all game like we were during the Hiram game to achieve that success again.”
Unfortunately, Kenyon was not able to continue its success against OWU on Saturday. The Battling Bishops got off to a strong start, jumping ahead to a 13-0 lead after the first quarter. Though the Owls made gains throughout the second quarter, they were unable to find the endzone. The host Battling Bishops never took their foot off the gas, taking a 35-0 lead into the locker room. OWU added touchdowns in each of the final two frames, and, though Benjamin scored his fifth touchdown of the season, Kenyon fell 48-7.
Jared Hancock ’26, who led the team with nine tackles, believes that the game against the Battling Bishops revealed the importance of preparation. “Against OWU, I thought we had great energy again going into the game, along with a good week of practices, which gave us the momentum to be confident on game day,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Something we can learn from OWU is that we need to keep stringing good practice weeks together so we can build something great.”
Kenyon will have its bye week this weekend, but the Owls will return to McBride Field to take on the Wabash College Little Giants on Oct. 21. Dirks highlighted the importance of limiting a Wabash team that is undefeated in conference play. “We need to maintain long possessions and put points up on the board, because they have a very potent offense and we need to do everything we can to keep [the ball] out of their hands,” he said.”
Benjamin believes that the team can use the bye week to get healthier, while Hancock emphasized the importance of continuing to improve outside of games: “We just need to bring our best out at every practice and compete in every aspect of the game, and we will find success against Wabash.”