OBERLIN – With its defense leading the way Saturday at Oberlin College, the Kenyon College football team used a late 61-yard interception return from Michael Picone to secure a 12-7 North Coast Athletic Conference win over the Yeomen.
Oberlin held a 7-6 lead late in the fourth quarter and just stopped a Kenyon drive with a quarterback sack at the Lords’ three-yard line. After Kenyon punted out of its own end zone, the Yeomen took over at their own 46-yard line and looked to kill as much clock as possible.
After six plays, Oberlin moved the ball to the Kenyon 42-yard line and burned the clock down to three minutes. At the point, with Oberlin facing a third-down-and-nine situation, Kenyon called a timeout in hopes of getting a stop and the ball back.
Instead, Oberlin quarterback Zach Taylor tossed a pass that Picone stepped in front, ran 61 yards the other way and completed the pick six, putting Kenyon ahead 12-7 with 2:49 remaining.
The Yeomen wound up getting two more chances at the win. The first of those two spanned six plays and only moved the ball 17 yards while burning up a minute-and-a-half. Kenyon then took over, ran three plays and watched Grayson Lawrence boot a 57-yard punt all the way down to the Oberlin one-yard line. With just 57 seconds remaining, Oberlin managed just two more plays before the game ended.
Kenyon’s defense held Oberlin to 227 yards of total offense. That included 158 passing yards and just 69 rushing yards on 27 attempts. The Lords’ defense also picked off two other Taylor passes and sacked him three times. The interceptions were made by Jimmy Lane and Nathan Junk, while the sacks were credited to Picone, Sam Dickey and Trevor Brown.
The only time Oberlin scored, it wasn’t all the fault of the Kenyon defense. A Kenyon fumble recovered on the Lords’ 27-yard line set the stage for the Yeomen to generate a quick, two-play scoring drive that ended with Taylor tossing a 17-yard touchdown to Brian Colarusso. The extra point gave the Yeomen their first lead of the game with 8:21 showing on the fourth-quarter clock.
Oberlin’s defense matched Kenyon’s. The Yeomen had five sacks and an interception, as well as the late fumble recovery. While they couldn’t stop Kenyon quarterback Thomas Merkle from throwing for 252 yards, they did shut down the Lords’ running game, which gained just 25 yards and lost 65, for a net of -40.
Despite those troubles on the ground, the Kenyon offense put together two nice drives in the second quarter. The first of those two encompassed 11 plays and 42 yards, but stalled at the Oberlin 38-yard line. The next drive covered 52 yards in seven plays, the last of which resulted in a two-yard scoring strike from Merkle to tight end Matt Jolliffe with just 1:06 left before the half.
Jolliffe ended the game with six catches for 38 yards, while both Justin Bosch and Andrew Schnarre had eight catches. Bosch went for 74 yards and Schnarre went for 61.
Kobe Brooks was Oberlin’s top offensive weapon. He ran for 71 yards on 21 carries and also caught two passes for three yards. Colarusso finished with seven catches for 58 yards and Brandon Davie had five receptions for 67 yards.
The win moved Kenyon to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the NCAC. The Lords now enter a bye week and won’t be back in action until October 19, when they head to Allegheny College to take on the Gators at 1 p.m.