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Kenyon strikes first, falls to Denison at home

GAMBIER, Ohio – The Kenyon College football team (1-8) took on the Denison University Big Red (6-3) on Saturday afternoon at McBride Field in Gambier, Ohio for a North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) matchup. Despite having the first two scores of the game, the Owls ultimately fell 38-15. 

Kenyon’s defense started the game out fast and physical, as Matthew Ehrenreich picked off Denison quarterback Jimmy Stines on the Big Red’s fifth play from scrimmage, giving the Owls some early momentum. The Owls would go on to strike first in the game due to great special teams and defensive play after Denison was pinned at the three-yard line mid-way through the first quarter by a perfectly placed punt. During a Big Red run to the left, first-year Sam Finnerty crashed the gap and drove the running back into his own endzone, sending the Owls up 2-0 with 8:08 remaining in the first for the team’s second safety of the season and the first of Finnerty’s career. 

On the ensuing possession, starting quarterback Park Penrod spread the ball to three different receivers as he dotted an eleven-yard pass to Charlie Taylor, a five-yard pass to Jordon Benjamin, an eight-yard pass to Dylan Carlquist, and finally a 35-yard bomb to Taylor again for an Owls touchdown, giving Kenyon a 9-0 lead with 5:21 left to play in the first quarter after a Tyler Bell extra point. 

After the two teams traded possessions ending in punts, Denison had the ball again and was driving into Kenyon territory, looking to score its first points of the game. Trey Fabrocini broke two tackles for Denison and had picked up a first down, but Finnerty, Jaylen Cardoso and Dominic Simpson combined to rip the ball away from the sturdy rusher, and first-year Jackson McCullough jumped on it to return possession to the Owls. After one, the Owls held a 9-0 advantage, the second time Kenyon has ended the first quarter with a lead this season. 

In the second, Denison scored its first points as the Kenyon defense did a great job of holding the Big Red offense to a 45-yard Daniel Cunningham field goal, his longest of the season, to set the score at 9-3 Owls. On Denison’s next drive after a Kenyon punt, Stines orchestrated a 15-play 95-yard drive ending in a Fabrocini rushing touchdown to give the Big Red a 10-9 lead going into halftime.

After halftime, Denison scored twice in the third quarter to put the Big Red up 24-9 after a three-play 70-yard drive ended with a Fabrocini rushing touchdown and a three-play ten-yard drive resulted in a Fabrocini reception touchdown.

In the fourth, the Big Red would score two more touchdowns to extend the advantage 38-9, but Kenyon did not go quietly. Benjamin and Drake Lewis combined for 49 yards on the ground and Penrod added a 13-yard pass to Taylor on a 14-play 75-yard drive that ended in a Lewis six-yard rushing touchdown to cut the Dension lead to 38-15 after a failed two-point conversion.  

Penrod ended the game nine for 31 passing for 96 yards with one touchdown and one interception while rushing five times for 17 yards. Benjamin and Lewis had similar afternoons, as the duo both rushed for 42 yards, while Lewis got one less carry with 13 but had the lone rushing touchdown. Taylor led the Owls receiving group with three receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown. 

Defensively, Simpson led all players with 17 total tackles. Jared Hancock was second on the team with nine total tackles, while Andy Canonico and Tommy Iannuzzi had eight apiece along with one tackle for loss each. 

The loss drops Kenyon’s record to 1-8. The Owls are back in action on Saturday, November 11th at McBride Field to face the Oberlin College Yeomen at 1:00 p.m. as the team honors the Senior Class for the final game of the regular season.

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