Section: Sports

After a hot start, Lords look to recapture early season magic

After a hot start, Lords look to recapture early season magic

Andris Balodis ’21 attempts to shed a diving Wooster cornerback. | SEJIN KIM/KENYON SID/NCAA

The Lords football team fell under .500 for the first time since late September, when they lost 51-13 to the College of Wooster at McBride Field last Saturday. The game was played in the harshest conditions the Lords had faced all year, with rain falling and wind blowing consistently on the coldest day of the Ohio fall so far.

For the second straight week, the Lords had difficulty finishing off defensive drives, with Wooster converting on 10 of their 18 3rd-down attempts and all three of their 4th-down attempts. While the Scots positioned themselves favorably on some of those downs, in eight of those 13 scenarios the Lords backed them into 3rd-and-7 or longer.

On the offensive side of the ball, injuries and turnovers prevented the Lords from building any momentum. After only throwing one interception in his last four games, quarterback Thomas Merkle’s ’20 first drop back was picked off on a deep shot in the first minute of the game. After the Scots scored their first touchdown, Kenyon’s running back Jack Provenza ’23 fumbled on the first Lords play from scrimmage which led to a Wooster field goal. 18 minutes into the game, the Lords faced a 24-0 deficit.

The Lords offense gained some momentum halfway through the second quarter. Down 27-0, Merkle launched a 40-yard pass to wide receiver Andris Baldois ’20 on 3rd-and-8 from midfield. Balodis, whose performance had been questionable after a foot injury during that week’s practice, caught the ball around the 20-yard line. He then proceeded to drag two Wooster defenders trying to tackle him to the 9-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Merkle was able to find Justin Bosch ’20 in the back of the end zone to cut the deficit to 27-7.

The Lords defense then proceeded to force the only Wooster punt of the game. With the Lords set to receive the ball down 20, Bosch muffed his fair catch attempt in the treacherous conditions, and Wooster recovered the ball on the Kenyon 21-yard line.

Once again standing  strong, the Lords held the Scots to only a field goal with half a minute left in the half but had lost their best opportunity to cut the lead to a manageable level entering the halftime break.

The final high mark for the Lords occured when cornerback Ryan Mott ’22 returned an interception at midfield all the way for the second Lords touchdown of the game. However, after a botched extra-point attempt and a 75-yard rushing touchdown for Wooster on their next play from scrimmage, the Lords’ momentum once again dissipated rapidly.

With three games remaining, the Lords are facing three of the four toughest teams in the NCAC. On Saturday, they travel to Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., who defeated the Lords 47-14 last year in Gambier, and whose only loss this season was against the Scots.

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