Denison emerged victorious in a game that will likely be remembered for the Big Red’s Kafkaesque punt game and Kenyon’s critical injuries, the latter of which proved to be insurmountable for the Lords in the second half. Here’s an inside look at Kenyon’s 2014 season finale:
Sr. RB #5 Brandon January stiff-arms a Denison defender. January finished his career with 1,897 total rushing yards, good enough for 8th all-time at Kenyon.
Kenyon’s linebackers absolutely terrorized the Denison punt team.
In a dominant special teams performance, Kenyon Jr. LB #44 Nick LaPoint (one deflection and one all-out block) and Sr. LB #35 Jack McDonald (one all-out block) combined to interrupt not one, not two but THREE Denison punts. After the Kenyon defense forced Denison to go three-and-out on their first drive of the game, LaPoint got a piece of the ensuing Denison punt, which ended up traveling a mere 26 yards. Two Denison drives later, LaPoint struck again, smothering a Denison punt to give Kenyon great field position at the Big Red’s own 27-yard line. In the second quarter, it was McDonald’s turn as the senior barreled through the Big Red line to smother a Denison punt, which Kenyon Fr. DB #4 Curt Williams recovered on the Denison 1-yard line. Even though it was only McDonald’s block which led to Kenyon points on the ensuing drive, the explosive performances by both LaPoint and McDonald gave the Lords some much needed momentum early on.
Kenyon Jr. Co-Captain #24 Alec McQuiston strips Sklenar of the football, forcing a Denison turnover. McQuiston finished the game with five tackles and this forced fumble.
Kenyon’s secondary was up to the challenge against Denison’s passing game.
Coming into Saturday, Denison Sr. QB #9 Brandon Sklenar was poised to have a big day against the Lords, averaging 300 passing yards per game. However, the Lords were up to the task, holding Sklenar to a season-low 173 yards through the air, with So. LB #20 Saxon Justice and So. DB #15 Jack Hanratty tallying interceptions for the Lords. Though Sklenar hurt the Lords with a 64-yard TD pass in the first quarter and a couple of 40+ yard scampers in the second half, the Kenyon coaching staff deserves credit for properly preparing the Lords secondary to generally contain Sklenar and keep Kenyon in the game.
Kenyon Fr. QB #1 Sam Appel rolls out of the pocket. Filling in for Bates, Appel went 16 of 28 passes for 145 yards.
Kenyon was absolutely ravaged by critical injuries.
A key point in the game occurred halfway through the second quarter, when Kenyon Jr. Co-Captain #13 Jake Bates was forced to leave the game with a head injury. The loss of Bates was made all the more crushing by the fact that it was very much anyone’s game at that point, but credit must be given to the Lords for persevering through the rest of the game, even in the absence of their usual signal-caller. In the third quarter, tragedy struck again when Hanratty shattered his leg and had to be taken off the field in an ambulance straight to Knox County Community Hospital. Other Lords, including Fr. LB #46 Tevin Harris, So. DB #9 Marcus Townsend, So. FB #99 Jordan Pakula and So. DB #27 Rob Mallen West, were also sidelined with injuries as the game wore on, further stretching the Kenyon roster. Keep in mind that Kenyon wasn’t without injuries going into the game, as Sr. WR #6 Jake Genachowski and Sr. WR #25 Nick Gasbarro were also banged up from injuries sustained in games past. With so many players out injured, any other team could have sat back and let Denison run all over them, but not the Kenyon Lords. 33-19 is a far cry from a blowout, and the Lords should be lauded for the effort they put forth against the Big Red on Saturday.
Kenyon Jr. TE #88 Greg McIntosh tries to reel in an Appel pass. McIntosh finished the day with six catches for 36 yards.
The Lords took themselves out of the game by failing to convert in crucial moments.
Certainly not unrelated to the fact that Kenyon suffered a troubling amount of injuries and did not have its usual personnel on the field as a result, the Lords struggled to execute and failed to put points on the board when they really needed them. One moment that comes to mind occurred in the third quarter when the Lords were driving deep into Big Red territory. With the score 27-13 and the ball on the Denison 6-yard line, Kenyon was poised to make it a one-possession game with a quick score. Unfortunately, the Lords gave the ball back to Denison on a fumbled snap. With the wind taken out of Kenyon’s sails, Denison moved quickly on a staggering three-play 91-yard drive to make the game 33-13. When all was said and done, Kenyon went three for six in the red-zone, leaving (at least) 21 points off the board. With many young starters having acquired valuable in-game experience this season, I predict that the Lords will do a noticeably better job executing (particularly in the red-zone) next season, which will no doubt lead to more victories.
The Kenyon offense gathers together on the sidelines.
Though the Lords certainly struggled at times throughout the season, this year’s squad should not be remembered for their record. Kenyon improved on the field throughout the season, culminating in their Week Nine victory over Allegheny; indeed, the team that triumphed over Allegheny was far different from the team which fell to Oberlin 47-28 in Week Two. With all but Sr. Co-Captain OL #53 Garrison Anderson returning to the Kenyon O-line (not to mention, Bates, Jr. FB #3 Blake Calcei and Jr. HB #21 Casey Beaudouin), we can expect a smoother and more potent offense that’ll be exciting to watch. Though the Lords’ linebacking corps will be without McDonald, all other defensive starters will return, which also bodes well for Kenyon in 2015. And, of course, many freshmen, including Fr. WR #2 Ian Bell, Fr. DB #14 Brandon Byrd, Fr. DL #22 Quashae “Q” Hendryx, Williams et al. picked up some valuable playing time this season which will be to the benefit of the whole team next season. Without question, there is much to look forward to in the 2015 season opener against Sewanee: The University of the South next September.
Editor’s note: A special shout-out to our seven graduating Lords who played in their final collegiate football game this past Saturday: Brandon January, Jake Genachowski, Nick Gasbarro, Jack McDonald, Harry Rossman, Michael Tuohy and Garrison Anderson. We can’t thank you enough for all the hours you’ve put in on the field, in the weight room and in the film room for this team. Your mark on this program will not be forgotten, and we wish you all well in your future endeavors!