MacKenzie Boots Bishops By Oberlin

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Sophomore Miles MacKenzie set a pair of school and North Coast Athletic Conference records and junior quarterback Mason Espinosa tossed a touchdown pass and surpassed 5000 career passing yards in leading the Bishops to a 29-17 win over Oberlin in their NCAC opener on Saturday in Oberlin.

On the game's first play from scrimmage, Oberlin's Josh Mandel connected with Robin Witjes for a 54-yard pass play, giving the Yeomen a first down at the Bishop 21, but the drive stalled and Erickson Andrews came on to boot a 29-yard field goal that gave Oberlin an early lead.

Ohio Wesleyan answered with a 32-yard strike from Espinosa to senior wide receiver Nick Ziegenbusch on the Bishops' first play from scrimmage, and that set up a 24-yard MacKenzie field goal that tied the game at 3-3.

MacKenzie gave the Bishops a 6-3 lead at the first-quarter gun, drilling a season-long 42-yarder to cap a 43-yard, 7-play drive.

Oberlin reclaimed the lead as Mandel moved the Yeomen down the field, finding Witjes for gains of 8 and 15 yards, and  throwing to Adam Niec for 29 yards, then connecting with Witjes again on a 25-yard scoring play that gave the Yeomen a 10-6 lead midway through the second quarter.

Late in the period, the Bishops drove 54 yards in just 4 plays, starting with a pass from sophomore wide receiver Scott Jenkins  to junior wide receiver Dave Mogilnicki for 38 yards and finishing with an Espinosa throw to Mogilnicki for a14-yard score that gave Ohio Wesleyan a 13-10 lead with 1:03 remaining.

Senior linebacker Tyler Sheetz picked off a Mandel pass and returned it 15 yards, giving Ohio Wesleyan the ball back at the Oberlin 40, and the Bishops took advantage of the opportunity, moving closer with 11-yard completions to Moginicki and sophomore running back Kevin Herman before MacKenzie came on to kick a 36-yard field goal on the final play of the half, giving the Bishops a 16-10 advantage at the break.

Lucas Poggiali, who relieved Mandel at quarterback, marched the Yeomen downfield midway through the third quarter, connecting with Niec for gains of 36 and 12 yards, then calling his own number for rushes of 23 and 10 yards.  Moses Richardson finished the drive with a 2-yard scoring plunge to tie the score, and Andrews' conversion kick gave the Yeomen a 17-16 lead.

The Bishop deficit was short-lived, however, as Espinosa struck quickly with throws to sophomore split end Steven Uhler for gains of 16 and 33 yards.  Those plays set up a 33-yard field goal try for MacKenzie, which he drilled on the final play of the third quarter for a 19-17 lead.

MacKenzie extended the margin to 22-17 with a 26-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, and Herman's 10-yard TD run finished off the day's scoring.

MacKenzie's 5 field goals broke the school record of 4 set by Pete Billington at Muskingum on Oct. 19, 1968, as well as the NCAC record of 4 accomplished 3 times.  His 17 points scored by kicking broke the school record of 13 set by Billington at Muskingum on Oct. 19, 1968, along with the NCAC record of 16 accomplished twice.

Espinosa completed 32 of 49 passes for 347 yards and a touchdown.  The 347 yards passing raised his career total to 5092.

Mogilnicki caught 8 passes for 134 yards, while Herman had 6 receptions for 33 yards and led the Bishops with 62 yards on 16 rushes.

Defensive standouts for the Bishops included junior safety Rayce Risser, who had a team-high 9 tackles and intercepted a pass; senior end James Huddleston, who added 8 tackles, including a sack and 3½ tackles for loss, and forced a fumble; and Sheetz, who made 7 stops in addition to intercepting a pass.

Mandel and Poggiali combined to complete 20 of 35 passes for 348 yards, with Witjes catching 11 aerials for 187 yards.  Dane Stritt led the Yeomen defense with 12 tackles.