Denison holds off Oberlin, 27-14
Denison improved to 5-3 on the season following a 27-14 victory over Oberlin College on Saturday afternoon at Deeds Field-Piper Stadium.
A 13-point second quarter would be the difference in the ball game as the two teams played the second half even, with each team reaching pay dirt once.
Oberlin landed the first punch of the game when Blake Buckhannon took a Lucas Poggiali screen pass 75 yards on the second play from scrimmage.
Trailing 7-0, the Denison offense went to work and after a John Wilson 31-yard kick return set up field position at their own 40-yardline. Four plays with positive yards would follow and on 2nd and 6 from the Oberlin 25-yardline, Brandon Sklenar optioned left and found daylight. As he was nearing the goal line, Oberlin's Gabe Edwards separated the ball from Sklenar. Like it was shot out of a cannon, the football flew to the right corner of the end zone where senior left tackle Matt Cochran was there to scoop it up for the game-tying score.
On the first play of the second quarter, Colin Morris would put DU up 13-7 with a 3-yard run capping off an 8-play 44-yard drive. The Denison defense would answer with three consecutive three-and-out series against the Oberlin offense. With 6:26 to play in the quarter, Denison took over on their own 41-yard line and Sklenar completed a 21-yard TD pass to DuShawn Brown to open the drive.
Nine plays later, Sklenar scored on a QB sneak on 3rd and goal from the 1-yard line, lifting DU to a 20-7 lead. Oberlin nearly cut into that Denison lead right before halftime, but Erickson Andrews' 30-yard field goal attempt clanged off the left upright and was no good.
The score would remain 20-7 in favor of the Big Red until 2:09 left in the third when Poggiali found Justin Cruz on a 15-yard touchdown pass on 3rd and 8.
DU would get good field position once again after a 21-yard punt return by Morris set up DU's drive on the Yeomen 35-yard line with 12:17 to play in the game. Sklenar proceeded to hit John Wilson for a 27-yard gain on first down and Morris added a 7-yard run on the next play. With the ball on the 1-yard line, Sklenar finished things off with his second rushing TD of the day. Matt Purrachio added the extra point, making it 27-14, Denison.
Even trailing by 13 in the fourth quarter, Oberlin refused to fade as Poggiali and the Yeomen proceeded to piece together a 14-play drive that had them on the Denison 21-yard line facing a 3rd and 13. Poggiali dropped back to pass and looked to the right corner of the end zone where three Denison defenders surrounded Oberlin's lone receiver. Senior cornerback Riley Tight tipped the pass in the air and Lucas Romick was there to haul in the interception and take a knee in the end zone for the touchback.
Oberlin's next offensive possession would also result in an interception in DU territory as Lars Soderberg tipped a Poggiali pass to himself at his own 13 and returned it 27-yards to the Big Red 40-yard line. That play allowed DU to take a knee and run out the clock.
Sklenar was 13-of-18 for 142 yards through the air. He also led DU with 69 rushing yards and two TD's on 20 attempts. Morris added 52 yards and one score off 12 attempts. Wilson led all receivers with three catches for 48 yards. DuShawn Brown also caught three passes for 38 yards. Poggiali was 19-for-38 for 293 yards and two touchdown passes. Moses Richardson rushed for 60 yards off 19 carries. Buckhannon was the leading receiver with six catches for 143 yards. Adam Niec finished with seven catches for 93 yards.
Joel Elliott paced the Denison defense with 13 tackles and one tackle for a loss. Teddy Kuntz and Tight each posted eight stops while Andrew Baird finished with seven. Soderberg and Romick accounted for the game's only interceptions while Ben Tracht, Cameron Kahl, and Kuntz all posted quarterback sacks.
Oberlin's defense was led by Kyle Kessler's 13 tackles. Zach Kisley finished with 11 stops.
Denison improves to 5-3 overall and 4-3 in the North Coast Athletic Conference while Oberlin dips to 2-6 overall and 1-6 in NCAC play. The Big Red will return to action next Saturday (Nov. 9) when they travel to Allegheny College for a 1 p.m. kickoff in Meadville, Pa.