WOOSTER, Ohio – Senior Antonio Bailey did the heavy lifting in the scoring column, while freshman Dexter Lewis' interception preserved The College of Wooster football team's 41-0 shutout over visiting Kenyon College on Saturday afternoon at John P. Papp Stadium.
Wooster (5-3, 4-3 North Coast Athletic Conference), which logged its first shutout since blanking Hiram College 62-0 on Oct. 30, 2010, had Kenyon (0-8, 0-7 NCAC) out of sorts from the start, as the Lords were whistled for a pair of false starts on the opening drive. That set up a third-and-14 play, during which Kenyon quarterback Thomas Merkle tried to force a throw through traffic, and sophomore Beau Greenwood came away with his third interception of the season at Kenyon's 32-yard line.
Bailey, who rushed for 126 yards on 19 carries – three of which went for touchdowns – got off to a strong start with 6 and 7 yards on his first two totes, and the senior capped the 5-play, 32-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
Two drives later, Kenyon was moving the chains, and at one point took a shot deep down the field. Senior Derrick Florence had a chance at the interception, but could not complete the highlight-reel play. The Lords got as close as the Scots' 18-yard line before turning it over on downs.
Wooster fired on all cylinders during the second quarter, in particular on offense, as the Scots came away with points on all three possessions.
Junior Jacob Lewis logged the big play on the Scots' first possession in the quarter, and that came in the form of a 27-yard reception that moved the ball past midfield. Later, junior Nick Strausbaugh bullied his way down to the 1-yard line on a 19-yard reception before a host of Lords defenders were able to bring the standout wideout down. From there, a quick 1-yard burst by Bailey, and sophomore Henry Whyte's ensuing extra point, doubled the lead to 14-0 at the 6:49 mark.
After the defense forced a quick three-and-out, freshman Mateo Renteria went right back to Strausbaugh for a 23-yard gain. Later, Renteria eluded the Lords rush, worked his way toward the sideline, and fired a bullet into a tight window, where Bailey was able to secure a 13-yard touchdown reception at the 3:33 mark.
Wooster executed the two-minute drill to perfection after taking over on its own 25-yard line with :57 to go before halftime. Faced with a third-and-10, Renteria kept the play alive by scrambling toward the sideline, and launched a deep ball that Strausbaugh was able to elevate for despite being double covered. The 40-yard reception bumped Strausbaugh's career yardage haul past 2,000, making him the fourth in program history to hit the milestone.
Wooster eventually worked the ball down to Kenyon's 5-yard line before settling for a field goal as time expired. Whyte knocked the 22-yarder through the uprights to make it a 24-0 game.
Neither team was able to move the ball efficiently at the onset of the third quarter, but that all changed when Strausbaugh was off to the races on a 63-yard touchdown reception after a pair of Lords collided with each other on the tackle attempt. The touchdown, the junior's 24th, moved Strausbaugh into a three-way tie with Chris Cabot and Reggie Ray for the second-most in program history.
After forcing a third straight three-and-out to start the second half, Wooster nearly ran Kenyon's punt back to the house. Sophomore Cam Pollard caught Grayson Lawrence's boot at Wooster's 29-yard line, and had one man to beat inside Kenyon's 10-yard line. Pollard elected to go head on with Kenyon's Trevor Brown instead of trying to cut around him and risk getting caught from behind. Brown was able to tackle Pollard at the 6-yard line.
Four plays later, Whyte nailed a 21-yard field goal to bump the lead out to 34-0.
Kenyon had its first prime opportunity to break up the shutout with 14:00 left in the game, but Ryan Cooper pushed his 36-yard field goal wide of the uprights.
Wooster quickly capitalized with Bailey's 36-yard touchdown run capping a 5-play, 80-yard drive, in what marked the Scots' final score of the day.
Late in the game, Kenyon again was poised to put points on the board with two plays inside Wooster's 10-yard line. On the second one, Merkle heaved the ball toward the back corner of the end zone, and Lewis was able to secure the shutout-preserving pick in the corner.
Renteria completed 17-of-27 passes for 286 yards and the two scores. Strausbaugh accounted for 169 of the yards on six receptions.
Freshman Eric Kraus turned in a strong defensive performance with a game-high 10 tackles to pair with his special teams' fumble recovery. Sophomore Mark Herron backed that up with seven tackles.
Merkle, who went 74-for-113 for 739 yards and six touchdowns in two prior starts against Wooster, was held to 208 yards on 26 completions. Ian Robertson turned eight receptions into 100 yards for the Lords.
Defensively, Tom Zaleski logged a co-team-high nine tackles for Kenyon, including one of the Lords' two sacks.
Next, Wooster travels to Denison University (6-2, 6-1 NCAC) for a 5 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 3.