Gators Stumble at Kenyon, 20-7
GAMBIER, Ohio – Kenyon scored touchdowns on all three of its possessions in the second quarter en route to a 20-7 victory over Allegheny at McBride Field on Saturday. The victory continued a surprising resurgence for the Lords, who moved to 4-1 in NCAC play, while the Gators dropped their second straight conference game following a 3-0 start.
Three turnovers plagued Allegheny's ability to capitalize on its best offensive output of the season, although the team's inability to convert on third down proved costly. The Gators racked up 353 yards of total offense, and enjoyed their most productive day of the campaign through the air, but finished the game converting two of 13 on third down.
The Gators pieced together several lengthy drives in the second half, but couldn't come away with any points as Kenyon earned its first win against Allegheny since 2005, a span covering seven meetings.
Allegheny got on the board first behind its longest play from scrimmage this season. Wideout Andrew Niklaus took a direct snap on first-and-10 and hooked up with Derrick Emigh in the middle of the field. Emigh split through a pair of Kenyon defenders and won the footrace to the end zone as Allegheny moved in front, 7-0, with one minute left in the opening frame.
While Allegheny struggled on third down, Kenyon was remarkably efficient, converting on third down during each of its three scoring drives in the second quarter. On third-and-one from the Allegheny 28, tail back Brett Williams broke through the Gators' defensive front and raced unscathed into the end zone to tie the game. The big play spurred the home crowd and ignited a terrible stretch for the Blue and Gold.
The Lords took advantage of a poor punt to gain favorable field position on their next series. Although Allegheny's defense forced third-and-eight after two plays, a 16-yard completion from Dan Shannon to Carlo Gagliardo extended the drive. Four plays later, Shannon and Gagliardo hooked up again in the end zone, although Allegheny blocked the extra point to keep the deficit at six.
Ahead 13-7, Kenyon got the ball right back after forcing a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. The Lords took over just outside the Gators' 30-yard line, and converted two third-and-long situations to maneuver into scoring position. Brandon January rushed for nine yards to complete the drive as well as the scoring for the afternoon.
Sophomore Joe Dawida finished 24-for-40 in his second career start, although he threw two interceptions and didn't complete a pass longer than 11 yards until the final drive of the game. He closed with a career-best 178 yards, while Allegheny's explosive contingent of receivers finally got some work.
Emigh, Niklaus, and Isaac Gittens all had seven catches on the day, while Emigh's total of 108 receiving yards was the most by an Allegheny player since Sean Griffin totaled 133 yards at Carnegie Mellon on Sept. 10, 2011. Niklaus had 65 yards receiving while finishing the game with 114 all-purpose yards.
The Lords' Williams, who came into Saturday's game ranked second in the NCAC in rushing, churned out 137 yards on the ground while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Totaling a game-best 172 all-purpose yards, Williams' effort paced the victory for the Kenyon attack, while Shannon was efficient going 16-of-22 for 167 yards.
Allegheny's defense was led by Bill Devlin, who continues to climb among the national leaders in tackles. Against the Lords, Devlin finished with a game-best 14 stops as well as a forced fumble. Rudy DeStefano added 10 tackles, while Colin Hartford had five stops, a fumble recovery, and an interception.