The #10 Wabash College Little Giants rolled into Gambier and handed the Lords’ a 52-10 loss. On the surface it looks ugly, but under further inspection the Lords did play well in certain respects. Here’s my take:
Johnson tries to get by a Wabash O-lineman.
Wabash will probably be the biggest team Kenyon will face this season. The hogs up front were massive and their running backs were built like linebackers, punishing any opposing tackler who tried to go high. Entering the contest averaging a whopping 238.3 rushing yards per game, the Lords defense held the Little Giants to just 142 yards, their lowest output of the season. Thanks to a fantastic effort from every Lords defender, the rush defense also only let up two runs of over 20 yards. Kenyon Sr. LB #35 Jack McDonald and Jr. DL #48 Marquis Johnson did their best to contain the Wabash running backs at the point of attack, and Kenyon Fr. DB #4 Curt Williams and Jr. Co-Captain #24 Alec McQuiston did a great job of coming in from the secondary for additional support. Brought up earlier for his presence against the rush, Johnson was an animal in pursuit of the quarterback Saturday afternoon. Though only credited with one sack on the day, Johnson was on the scene whenever a Wabash quarterback was pressured or flushed out of the pocket.
McQuiston marks a Wabash WR.
Despite the strong performance from the rush defense, Kenyon ultimately got beat by the Wabash passing attack. Picking up on the fact that Kenyon was stacking the box more often than not, Wabash was able to make big plays through the air. To his credit, Kenyon So. DB #9 Marcus Townsend did make some fantastic plays while in man-to-man coverage. On one occasion, Townsend exhibited expert timing while swatting away a pass in the end zone that looked like a sure- touchdown for Wabash . With Kenyon Fr. DB #14 Brandon Byrd also making some nice plays in the secondary, the two can become a dangerous duo for NCAC quarterbacks if they continue to hone their skills and mature.
Bates warms up his arm while Kenyon Sr. WR #6 Jake Genachowski looks on.
Before taking a look at the Kenyon offense, it’s important to note that Wabash boasts a pretty impressive defense. With two All-American candidates on the frontline and a host of ball hawks behind them, the Wabash defense forces opponents to only 52 rushing yards, 183 passing yards and 13 points a game. Now there is no denying that the Kenyon rushing attack struggled; holes never seemed to open up for Kenyon Sr. RB #5 Brandon January, who was still able to pick up 52 yards on the day. The Kenyon offensive line got great jumps off the line of scrimmage; however, the sheer size of the Wabash defenders really closed all the gaps.
Bell weaves through the Wabash defense.
Coach Mono’s game plan appeared to be quick passes to the outside. His longest completion on the afternoon being a gain of 14 yards, Kenyon Jr. Co-Captain QB #13 Jake Bates was successful on about 50% (17/32) of his passes, which mostly consisted of quick hitters to So. WR #5 Brian Hunca and Fr. WR #2 Ian Bell; this was Kenyon’s only option, since the run game was stalling. Kenyon also effectively made use of quick rollouts to buy Bates a little more time and open up more alleys to throw to receivers. Even when pressured, Bates did a good job of keeping his eyes downfield in hopes of finding a receiver in the flats.
Kenyon So. LB #37 Ryan Angelo checks the Wabash read option.
Hunca remains to be the model possession-receiver for the Lords. Hunca caught nearly every pass thrown his direction, including a beautiful snag near the sidelines on a fourth down conversion. It’s hard to find a more reliable receiver than one who brings his “A” game every week like Hunca does.
The Kenyon D converges on a Wabash ball carrier.
One last note: One moment that resonates with me from Saturday is McQuiston’s reaction to a late Wabash touchdown after a Bates interception. Following the score, the Co-Captain ran towards the sidelines, threw off his helmet and yelled, “We can stop them! We need to keep fighting!” This is exactly what you want to see out of one of your leaders: McQuiston’s emotions were raw, but they were also positive; he was trying to pump up his teammates when sideline morale was low.