Postgame Notes: Kenyon 25, Ohio Wesleyan 35.

By Noah

A comeback was in the air at Selby Stadium during halftime, but Ohio Wesleyan came away with the W. Noah offers his sideline-perspective in Postgame Notes.

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Kenyon’s o-line doing work up front.

Kenyon’s offensive line and running back corps had their best game of the season thus far. While they did give up four sacks, the o-line played well against an aggressive OWU front and allowed the Lords’ rushing game to get to work on the ground. Despite Kenyon Junior RB #21 Casey Beaudouin not getting many reps due to lingering ankle issues, Senior RB #5 Brandon January and Junior FB #3 Blake Calcei picked up the slack big time. Although neither broke free for any big plays, January and Calcei were able to wear down the Ohio Wesleyan defense and pick up the necessary yardage on those 3rd and short and 4th and short situations. Busting ahead for three or four yards may not seem like much, but we don’t need to look back any further than the Oberlin game to see how badly failing to convert on 4th and short can hurt you in the long run.

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Bates preparing for battle during warm-ups. 

Kenyon’s passing game was on point once again. Junior Co-Captain QB #13 Jake Bates completed 28 passes on 39 attempts for 242 yards and two TDs. You can even chalk up Kenyon’s first TD to the passing game as well, as Bates hit Sophomore WR #7 Brian Hunca (nine catches for 91 yards on the night) for a 34-yard gain on third and long to set up January’s TD run from the two-yard line. Without registering any catches up to this point in the season, Calcei picked up 33 yards and a TD on five catches, slipping underneath the OWU line on a few occasions to pick up yardage on a shovel pass from Bates.

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Kenyon Freshman WR #2 Ian Bell had four catches for 41 yards against the Bishops.

Kenyon’s offense went nine for 21 on 3rd down conversions and three for three on 4th down conversions. While the former stat isn’t particularly breathtaking, Kenyon’s third down conversion rate hovered around 27% last year, so the team has made noticeable progress in that department. Unfortunately, only one of the 4th down conversions led to a score later in the drive, but giving Kenyon’s defense some rest (a glaring problem during the Marietta game) and keeping OWU’s offense off the field can be very helpful in the long run. Sometimes the best defense really is a good offense.

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Simo looking strong during warm-ups.

Kenyon Sophomore K #10 Szabi Simo is making a strong case for most improved player. Giving Kenyon the early lead with his career-long 45-yard boot was huge as far as putting OWU up against the ropes and letting everyone know that Kenyon was here to play. Having Simo’s 33-yard attempt bounce off of the cross bar at the end of the 3rd quarter was unfortunate, but combine the first field goal attempt with keeping all of his kickoffs inside OWU’s 10-yard line, and it’s safe to say that Simo can give himself a pat on the back for his work in Saturday’s game.

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Assistant Coach Pat Moynahan talking strategy with the Lords’ defense during the half.

Kenyon won the turnover battle. OWU may be able to pull out a win after turning the ball over a few times, but Kenyon can’t afford to do so and they played like it too, not yielding any turnovers during the game. On the defensive side, Kenyon Junior LB #44 Nick LaPoint did a great job hustling into the backfield to recover a fumbled snap in the 1st quarter and Freshman RB #32 Clay Lapp’s recovery of a muffed punt in the 2nd quarter set up a Kenyon scoring drive that made it a one-posession game for the Lords.

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January picked up 70 yards on 17 rushes and caught four passes for 10 yards.

Big plays really stung the Kenyon defense. Though Kenyon’s defense did a good job forcing OWU to go three-and-out early on, the Battling Bishops racked up 14 points on drives where they moved the chains on 3rd and long. Kenyon’s defense really struggled to contain OWU QB #7 Dominick Orsini, especially on the read-option, who broke free for 161 yards and three rushing TDs on the game. Orsini’s second rushing TD, a 65-yard scamper just 40 seconds after Kenyon took a 17-14 lead in the third quarter, was especially demoralizing from a Kenyon perspective.

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The Lords can be nothing but proud of their effort on Saturday night. No matter how outsized Kenyon may be before kickoff, you can just tell by how these guys play that they never step onto the field expecting to lose. No matter how many late hits they took and officiating calls they didn’t get, Kenyon never let frustration get the best of them and always kept themselves within striking distance, taking it one possession at a time. The Lords did a lot of things right on Saturday, and it’s unfortunate that they were dealt the loss on account of a few miscues. Kenyon is on an upward trend moving forward, and if these two teams played a few weeks from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if the outcome was different.

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