Football Set to Battle Hiram in Season Finale
The Yeomen suffered a Senior Day spoiler at the hands of the DePauw University Tigers last Saturday in their ninth consecutive loss of the year, falling 50–17. Still looking for its first win, Oberlin will travel to Hiram College tomorrow to face off against the Terriers for its last matchup of the season.
“The main thing with [Hiram] is they have a lot of great athletes, and they definitely have some playmakers within their wide receiver group, so that’s going to be a challenge to defend for sure,” said sophomore defensive back Isaiah Rapp.
Rapp added that he remains positive as the season comes to a close, citing the team defense’s growth. The Yeomen will need a strong defense in order to prevent a repeat of last year’s crushing 24–21 loss to Hiram last year, in which the Terriers were able to erase a 21–3 second-half deficit.
Hiram holds eighth place in the North Coast Athletic Conference at 2–7 overall and 2–6 in the conference, but they have shown offensive prowess, defeating Kenyon College 45–7 on Sept. 17 before taking down Allegheny College 42–14 on Oct. 29. Hiram is also led by some of the premier playmakers in the NCAC, including senior wide receiver Joshua Philander, who ranks second in the conference with 103.1 yards per game.
This season, the Yeomen have struggled on both sides of the ball, ranking last in the NCAC for points per game with 15.4 and second worst in points allowed per game with 40.0. While the scoring gaps may be large, junior tight end Chris Mueller said he believes that the team’s difficulties executing smaller details during games are far more important.
“This year it’s really just the little things,” he said. “It’s not like anything too crazy, it’s just one little mistake by one person. One mistake can kill a drive.”
Struggles aside, in order to finish the season on the right foot against Hiram, Mueller and the Yeomen have expressed commitment to keeping a positive outlook.
“I think we can beat any team in our conference on any given day,” Mueller said. “I think we need to play well for that to happen. We need to play a winning brand of football.”
The pursuit of a “winning brand” of football is something that Head Coach Jay Anderson has demanded from the Yeomen since week one. Concluding his third year at the helm, Anderson said he believes that the relatively young Yeomen must focus on minimizing mistakes, take advantage of scoring opportunities and stop to explosive plays while on defense in order to win.
“It’s been a season of growth for our team,” Anderson said. “We have to continue taking it week by week. It’s about not trying to get too high or too low.”
Coming off a 42–23 loss at The College of Wooster last week, the Terriers will be hungry to unleash their offense, which averages nearly 21 points per game and has performed far better than their overall record would suggest. Still, Hiram’s defense is an Achilles heel that the Yeomen will look to capitalize on.
Allowing 35 points per game, the Terriers’ struggles bode well for an improving Oberlin offense guided by first-year quarterback Zach Taylor, who is averaging 190.8 passing yards per game. Having recorded at least one win in every season since 2001, the Yeomen have their sights set on ending 2016 positively.