The Lords opened the season with a controlling first half performance, only to relinquish the lead and ultimately fall to Marietta College, 29-11. Here’s my take:
Football is back. Take a minute to let that sink in. Win or lose, this is a magical time of year around college campuses nationwide.
The offense was able to move the ball during the first half, having drives of seven plays or more on three of their seven possessions. Kenyon’s first half was highlighted by a 32-yard field goal from sophomore K #10 Szabi Simo (the first of his collegiate career) and a 32-yard strike from junior Co-Captain QB #13 Jake Bates to sophomore WR #7 Brian Hunca off of a play-action. Unfortunately that’s where the highlights stopped for the Lords, as the offense could not construct a meaningful drive in the second half.
Defensive pressure from Marietta added to the Lords’ second half woes, as Bates was sacked a total of seven times. After Bates lost a fumble late in the second half, the team’s collective frustration was visible from the sidelines. Despite the constant pressure, Bates was effective whenever he had enough time to get rid of the ball, going 12-18 for 100 yards and a touchdown.
The defense played a beautiful first half, forcing the Pioneers to go three-and-out on five of their seven possessions. As for those other two possessions, they resulted in forced fumbles both recovered by Kenyon junior Co-Captain #24 Alec McQuiston, who also led the Lords with 13 tackles on the day.
Unfortunately, Kenyon’s defense appeared to get worn down in the second half, which was in part due to the lack of rest they got from the offense’s fleeting second half possessions. After a 46-yard touchdown pass from QB Akil Young on the opening drive, Marietta was poised for a comeback. After a switch at QB, Lucas Havens got the Pioneers’ show running, literally, passing for a score and running in for two more.
Despite the disappointing loss, there were some encouraging takeaways. The Lords had to battle through two season-ending injuries to senior Co-Captain DL #53 Garrison Anderson and sophomore WR #11 Jibri McLean that the two players incurred during training camp. Tough guys to replace, but Saturday gave the young team a chance to band together step up to the adversity. Kenyon’s defense fought hard the whole game, and freshmen DBs #4 Curt Williams and #14 Brandon Byrd made some nice plays in the secondary. On the offensive end, Bates looked more confident under center for the Lords, although protection from the offensive line will have to improve from Saturday.
Although the Lords start the season 0-1 overall, their conference record is still a clean slate. This Saturday, the Lords open up NCAC play at home against Oberlin and I know Head Coach Chris Monfiletto will have these guys ready to go.