Dominate second half propels Marietta to season-opening win at Kenyon

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GAMBIER, Ohio — Marietta College exploded for 29 unanswered points in the second half to defeat Kenyon College 29-11 Saturday (Sept. 6) afternoon in the season-opener for both schools.

After the teams traded punts on their first possessions, Kenyon scored on its next two offensive series for an early 11-0 lead. The Lords' Szabi Simo hit a 32-yard field with 5:57 left in the opening period for the first points of the game.

Marietta fumbled on the ensuing possession and Kenyon took advantage of the mistake. Jake Bates connected with Brian Hunca on a 32-yard scoring strike and then Cody Keenan ran for the two-point conversion giving Kenyon the 11-0 lead with 3:25 left in the first.

The Pioneer offense struggled to get anything going in the first half. Marietta tried to establish the run but was limited to just 32 yards on 16 carries in the first half.  Penalties and two turnovers also hampered the Pioneers as they trailed 11-0 at the break.

Head coach Andy Waddle and offensive coordinator Alan Estep made some adjustments at halftime and the Pioneers moved the ball at will in the second half.

Freshman Masai McDaniel set the tone with a 28-yard kickoff return to open the third quarter giving Marietta the ball at its own 40-yard line. Seven plays later sophomore Akil Young hit tight end Tyler Anderson for a 46-yard touchdown. The pair hooked up again on the two-point conversion as the Pioneers cut the lead to 11-8 with 12:48 left in the third.

While the offense was getting rolling, Marietta's defense was dominating Kenyon. The Pioneers didn't allow Kenyon to get a first down on its first five possessions of the second half. By the time the Lords managed a first down they were trailing 29-11.

Junior Lucas Havens took over at quarterback for the Pioneers on MC's second possession of the third quarter and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and threw for another. Havens biggest play of the game came on a fourth and nine at the Kenyon 15-yard line.

Trailing 11-8, Waddle opted to go for it and Havens was flushed out of the pocket and ran for a first down getting pushed out at the two. Havens dove in on the next play and Zach Prichard added the point after giving Marietta the lead 15-11 with two seconds left in the third.

Havens scored again from two yards out to cap a seven-play, 54-yard drive as the Pioneers extended the lead to 23-11 with 8:17 remaining in the game.

Kenyon fumbled the ball away on its next possession and the Pioneers put the game away. Havens connected with senior wide receiver Tannon Roberts for a 43-yard touchdown with less than five minutes on the clock.

Havens finished with 148 yards passing on 6-of-16 attempts with one touchdown. Young was 7-of-12 for 97 yards and a score. Anderson caught four passes for 97 yards and a TD.

McDaniel was MC's leading rusher with 74 yards on 16 carries. Freshman Nick O'Neal had eight carries for 57 yards and junior Ahshai Stewart gained 48 yards on 13 carries.

The Pioneers had 396 yards of total offense, 151 rushing and 245 through the air, and 17 first downs. The Pioneer defense limited Kenyon to just 172 yards of total offense and only 72 rushing yards.

Freshman Grant Patterson had a team-high eight tackles. Junior Nick Thompson recorded four tackles for a loss including three sacks.

Following a week off, Marietta opens Ohio Athletic Conference play at Otterbein University Saturday (Sept. 20). Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.