Oberlin 29, Kenyon 26
Gambier, Ohio – Redshirt sophomore Josh Mandel connected
with Adam Niec on Oberlin's first play of overtime to send
the Yeomen home with a 29-26 victory over the Kenyon College Lords
on Saturday afternoon at McBride Field.
The win marks the Yeomen's first week-one victory since 1997 when they edged Thiel College 18-17 in a game that is best remembered for ending Oberlin's 40-game losing streak.
Making his first career start, Mandel turned in an amazing performance under center as he finished the day 25-of-36 for 335 yards to go along with four touchdown passes, however, he was picked twice. His 335—yard effort is the sixth best single-game total in school history.
Niec, a sophomore from Brecksville, Ohio, was Mandel's top target as he had a career day with 10 catches for 93 yards and three TDs.
Defensively, the Yeomen were led by senior tri-captain Solomon Turner with 11 total tackles. C.J. Plyler, Dane Stritt and David Kalgren also came away with an interception in the ball game.
With the score knotted at seven at the break, both offenses became much more aggressive in the second half, as both Lords and Yeomen came out in multiple five wide receiver sets.
On their first possession of the third quarter, the Lords went down the field rather quickly and had a first-and-goal to go, but the Yeomen defense – which had a bend-but-don't-break mentality throughout the game – once again came up big as a deflection at the line of scrimmage allowed Stritt to come away with his first-career INT.
However, Kenyon would cash in its second TD of the game on their next possession and would later add a field goal to grab a 17-7 lead with 4:39 left in the third quarter.
But the Yeomen were just getting started as they followed with a 13-play, 71-yard drive in 5:26 to get right back into the game. On the series Mandel completed passes of 27 and 22 yards to setup a six-yard scoring strike to Niec.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Yeomen then tried to get a little fancy with a surprise on-side kick that ended up backfiring as the Lords scooped up the loose ball and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown, but Antonio Cataldo failed to convert the PAT so the Lords led 23-14.
Zach Richard got the Yeomen within six, 23-17, with a 26-yard field goal with 11:23 left to play. After the Lords used 3:29 off the clock, Cataldo missed a 29-yard attempt to put the Yeomen in position to tie or win the game.
OC took over at the 7:50 mark and a perfectly orchestrated drive that took 5:50 off the clock resulted in yet another Mandel-to-Niec TD – this time from eight-yards on a quick slant route. However, the go-ahead PAT try was missed to keep the game tied.
The Lords were trying to march down the field to setup a potential game-winning score in the final two-minutes, but Plyler came through with an interception to short-circuit the threat.
Oberlin had the ball with a 1:11 to play, but a sack on first down hindered its chances from winning in regulation.
After winning the coin toss to start the extra session, the Yeomen deferred and elected to go on defense first. It proved to be the right choice as the Lords lost three yards on the drive and settled for a 42-yard field goal by Cataldo, which set the stage for the Yeomen's game-winning heroics.
Oberlin is idle next week, but will return action on September 18 at The College of Wooster.