September 17, 2012

Kenyon has put losing streak in rearview mirror

More news about: Kenyon
Defensive back Will Clements had two interceptions against Earlham two weeks ago, helping to snap a two-year losing skid for Kenyon. The Lords followed up that performance with another win this past weekend.
Kenyon athletics photos

Athletes are always told that hard work pays off.

So when football players hit the practice field every single day and do everything they possibly can to prepare for a victory, doubt fills their minds when it doesn't pay off.

And when football players push themselves in the weight room throughout the offseason, driven by the hope that the upcoming season will be better than the last one, doubt again fills their minds when success slips out of their grasp.

Brett Williams and his Kenyon teammates can relate to it all. They have been down the path far too often.

"It was tough losing week in and week out, and to work so hard only to come up short," Williams said. "The close games were particularly hard, because we knew that there were several games that we lost by beating ourselves and giving games away. To stay upbeat was easy. I was given the opportunity to go play football, which is all I need to be motivated."

Senior defensive back Will Clements echoed those thoughts.

"Whether you win or lose the previous week, you always have to prepare the same way for the next opponent. You have to put in the work on the practice field, in the weight room, watching film, so it was difficult because each week you tried to do a little more, but it wasn't paying off."

Like Williams, Clements didn't have to look far to find motivation.

"When I was struggling to find motivation, I would always look to the seniors ahead of me," Clements said. "I knew that I wanted to work for them so that they could go out with a positive experience."

Nothing lasts forever, but the losing streak the Lords had endured since late in the 2009 season sure seemed like it was going to live for all eternity.

For 24 games, the Lords couldn't find the win column. Five times they lost by 10 points or less. Other times, they were blown right off the football field.

Two weeks ago, the streak took its last breath. Williams and his Kenyon teammates made sure of it, knocking off Earlham 31-14 at McBride Field.

Contributions came from all over the field.

Williams rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns, including a 61-yard touchdown run that gave the Lords a 7-0 lead in the opening quarter.

Dan Shannon completed six of his 14 passes for 72 yards and threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Smith. Brandon January rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown.

Clements came up with two interceptions and two tackles. Kolin Sullivan finished with a team-best 10 tackles. Reed Franklin racked up nine tackles. Zachary Morrow tallied eight tackles. Luke Bissinger and Sam McQuiston picked off one pass apiece.

Dreaming of a win is something the Lords have been doing for a long time. The thing is, once they made it a reality, celebrating was sort of difficult.

"I really didn't know how to react after the game," Clements said. "You always go into a game expecting to win, but it had been so long since we had actually achieved it that I didn't know quite how to react."

He eventually figured it out.

"I just jumped into the stands and hugged everyone," Clements said.

First-year head coach Chris Monfiletto stood back and watched it all unfold. The former offensive coordinator at Lycoming College knew his hands were going to be full when he took this job in January. After all, turning around a team that had made losing a habit was not going to be easy.

Brett Williams has carried much of Kenyon's offense this fall as the team switched from the spread offense to the pro style. Williams has put up 425 yards in just three games.

So to see his team celebrate its victory over Earlham was a sign that maybe a bright future is in store for Kenyon.

"I am so happy for the seniors, and for the team to be able to celebrate the experience with the students and fans at the game was great to see," Monfiletto said. "I can only imagine what it felt like for those players to go week after week without winning. We had a good week of practice leading up to the game, though, and it felt good to see it result in a win."

Life is different now at Kenyon. The Lords, who opened the year with a 20-0 loss to Bluffton, have won back-to-back games for the first time since 2009. Kenyon defeated Hiram 24-7 at home on Saturday.

The Lords are now 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the North Coast Athletic Conference. It's their best start to a season since 1998.

No one is going to officially nominate Kenyon as the team to beat in the NCAC. It will take time to build up to that point. But the one thing that is for certain is that the players on the team are united in their goal to make Kenyon football relevant.

"We feel like we have the right people on the team. The guys that stuck around are committed to winning football games," Monfiletto said. "The team runs itself from an effort standpoint. The guys always work hard in practice, and we believe we are going in the right direction."

Clements said that the younger players on the team who had never experienced winning at the college level deserve a lot of credit. He is proud to call them his teammates.

"The juniors and sophomores who had never won a collegiate game until [Earlham], yet have not quit or transferred or anything like that, deserve all of the respect in the world for being so committed," Clements said. "They motivate me day in and day out."
One of the biggest changes the Lords have made is to their offense. They have rolled up 629 yards on the ground, primarily behind the play of Williams, and have racked up 175 yards through the air.

"Our offense is a huge change from the past, switching from a spread to a pro style," Williams said. "That has been key so far in our success. Coach has done a great job to instill a new culture along with embracing the players that were already here."

Defensively, the Lords have been tougher as well. Since allowing 20 against Bluffton, they have given up 21 in their last two games. Kenyon has come up with eight turnovers and five sacks.

"It's a lot of fun playing the game when you are going three-and-out and getting turnovers," Clements said. "That happens when everyone is working together. The guys up front are stopping the run or getting pressure on the quarterback to allow us to make plays in the back end."

The Lords will try to build on the momentum this week when they play on the road against Washington University in St. Louis.

"I expect this season to be a huge step forward for this program," Williams said. "Now that we've won that first game, we can take that feeling and duplicate it in the weeks to come."

In the poll

Mount Union is back at No. 1 in the Top 25 poll. The Purple Raiders churned out 619 yards and blasted Muskingum 57-0 en route to their 65th consecutive victory in the regular season.

Mount Union turned in an impressive defensive performance as it limited the Muskies to 59 yards of total offense.

Kevin Burke threw four touchdown passes and rushed for two more on a day when he passed for 258 yards and ran for 17. Jasper Collins caught two touchdown passes and made five catches for 118 yards, the seventh 100-yard receiving game of his career.
T.J. Lattimore rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown while Nick Driskill racked up six tackles. Charles Dieusel made five tackles, forced a fumble and recorded one sack.

Defense was the story of the day for No. 8 Wabash as it rolled to a 35-2 win over Denison in its NCAC opener. The Little Giants came up with four interceptions, two fumbles and tallied seven sacks. Cody Buresh led the way as he tallied 11 tackles, forced a fumble and finished with 3.5 sacks. Buresh tied a single-game record with five tackles for a loss.

Wabash, which moved up to No. 7 this week, has already picked off eight passes in two games. The Little Giants racked up 16 interceptions all of last season.

The Cuyahoga Gold Bowl lived up to the hype, and No. 15 Baldwin Wallace found a way to survive a valiant effort by John Carroll, earning a 32-28 win on Saturday.

The Blue Streaks had the Yellow Jackets on the brink of an upset after Sean Keunzig scored on a 3-yard run to give John Carroll a 28-17 lead with 12:38 to go in the fourth.

Baldwin Wallace responded to the adversity. Ryan O'Rourke scored on a 1-yard run and threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Josiah Holt with 1:21 to play. The 84-yard scoring strike put Baldwin Wallace in front by four and Austin Cordova sealed the deal when he picked off a pass with 24 seconds to go.

Holt was sensational in the win. He caught six passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Holt also rushed for 41 yards and he returned four kickoffs for 113 yards, helping the Yellow Jackets win their first game at Don Shula Stadium since 1998. Baldwin Wallace moved up to No. 14 this week.

No. 21 Thomas More got all it could handle from Westminster on Saturday at The Bank of Kentucky Field, slipping by with a 27-23 win.

The Saints trailed 13-10 at halftime but were up 17-13 heading into the fourth quarter. Down 23-20 with 18 seconds to go, Luke Magness delivered in crunch time, throwing a 16-yard scoring strike to Ryan Winkler as Thomas More won its Presidents' Athletic Conference opener. The Saints are 1-1 on the year.

Magness was 22 of 27 for 205 yards while Adam Rauch rushed for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jay Volker stepped up defensively and made eight tackles, including four for a loss. Alex Taylor added seven tackles and two sacks.

Star power

Adrian went on the road for the first time this season and came away with a 31-24 win over Wisconsin Lutheran on Saturday. The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions, and quarterback Aaron Tenney played a key role in the success. He was 8-of-11 on the day and threw two touchdown passes to Justin Hemm. The first pass put the Bulldogs in front 21-7 in the second quarter and the final scoring strike, a 43-yard pass, stretched the Adrian lead to 31-16. Tenney threw for 145 yards in the win and Hemm caught three passes for 76 yards.

Thiel kicker Cody McClelland didn't get a chance to nail a potential game-winning field goal against Geneva in overtime on Saturday, but he did save the day for the Tomcats at Alumni Stadium.

When the exchange between the snapper and holder wasn't executed successfully, McClelland picked up the ball and hit tight end Berend Grube in the end zone with a 12-yard pass to not only give Thiel a 21-14 win, but also bring an end to a 24-game losing streak. (The play was chosen as D3football.com's Play of the Week.)

Geneva was unable to answer on its possession as this tightly contested PAC encounter ended in dramatic fashion. Thiel (1-2, 1-0 PAC) celebrated its first win since October of 2009. Grube ended his day with three catches for 31 yards to help the Tomcats roll up 383 yards of offense.

Andrew Smith completed 14 of his 26 passes for 164 yards and rushed for one touchdown. Josh Potter ran for a score as well. Linebacker Jack Sindlinger paced the defense with 12 tackles.

Carnegie Mellon quarterback Rob Kalkstein completed 10 of his 12 passes and threw for a career-high 290 yards as the Tartans remained unbeaten with a 35-17 win over Catholic. He also threw a career-best three touchdowns. Timothy Swanson caught three passes for 128 yards and one score. Tim Kikta and Patrick Blanks also hauled in touchdown passes. The Tartans are 3-0 on the year.

Heidelberg running back Cartel Brooks rose to the occasion for the Student Princes in their dominating 43-7 win over Ohio Northern on Saturday. Brooks rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns as Heidelberg improved to 2-0 and won its second consecutive Ron and Jason Bendekovic Trophy.

Although the Polar Bears lost the game, they used the OAC tilt as Veterans Appreciation Day. An F-16 flyover was part of the celebration and the Ohio Northern players wore special camouflage uniforms, which were later auctioned off to raise money for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Notes

Kalamazoo running back Dimeko Price scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to help the Hornets pull away from Lakeland in a 31-24 road win on Saturday as part of the MIAA-NAC challenge. Price rushed for 82 yards and finished his day with three touchdowns as he helped the Hornets improve to 3-0...Reed Florence made sure he and his Wittenberg teammates gave DePauw a rude welcome into the NCAC. The star quarterback was 17-of-20 passing for 336 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass on a day when the unbeaten Tigers rolled up 508 yards of offense...Case Western linebackers Kevin Nossem and Wade Self came through with season-highs in tackles in the Spartans' 17-16 loss to Frostburg State at home on Saturday. Nossem tallied 16 tackles and Self racked up 13 tackles...Despite throwing four interceptions because he was under pressure from Wabash, Denison quarterback Max Paulus finished 26-of-46 for 221 yards in a 35-2 loss to the Little Giants....Westminster quarterback Dak Britt threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 152 yards in the Titans' 27-23 loss to No. 21 Thomas More....Washington and Jefferson won its fourth consecutive PAC opener with a 24-17 win over Grove City. B.J. Monacelli, Ian Hennessy, Sam Comly, Nathan Melhorn and John Hunter racked up seven tackles apiece in the win...DaQuan Grobsmith rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown for John Carroll in its 32-28 loss to rival Baldwin Wallace on Saturday. Grobsmith also caught four passes for 34 yards...Hope quarterback Michael Atwell completed 27 of his 53 passes for a career-high 445 yards and five touchdowns as Hope lost a shootout to Concordia (Ill.) on Saturday, falling 63-47 in the MIAA/NAC Challenge. Atwell also ran for a touchdown.

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