The Yeomen started their season on a high note with a 19–2 victory over the visiting Case Western Reserve University Spartans in their home opener this past Sunday. It had been 28 years since the football team last upended the Spartans, when they beat them 17–6 in a season-opening triumph in 1982.
“This was a great team victory,” said senior captain Zach Kisley. “I was really proud of everyone. We are a really young team and it was great to see the underclassmen step up. Every aspect of our defense and offense worked, which is why we were successful.”
The Yeomen defense limited the Spartans to 11 first downs and 195 yards of total offense, while their offense totaled 219 running yards on 52 attempts. The first scoring drive of the game came in the first quarter when sophomore quarterback Lucas Poggiali found fifth-year Adam Niec on a rollout from nine yards out. The Spartans’ first attempt to put points on the board came at the start of the second quarter, but their offense was no match for the Yeomen defensive line.
The Yeomen held on to the 7–0 lead until the fourth quarter when Poggiali added to the scoring. He ran the ball for an eight–yard gain, giving Oberlin a 13–0 lead. Following the touchdown, senior defenders Kirby Livingston and Jake Danko thwarted the Spartans’ final offensive efforts with a strip-sack forced fumble. This defensive momentum powered the Oberlin offense through their final touchdown of the day. With 2:45 left on the clock, sophomore Blake Buckhannon ran the ball in from seven yards out for a touchdown.
The Yeomen defense finished with 49 tackles. Senior Kyle Kessler led the way with six tackles, while sophomore C.J. Ihle followed with two. Sophomore Gabe Edwards also recorded his first career interception.
“Defensively, C.J. Ihle had a great game,” said Head Coach Jeff Ramsey. “Our coaches named him defensive player of the week. Edwards, Danko and Kisley also played well defensively. This was a great win for the program and for all the former Yeomen as well. It was a lot of fun, and it was nice to see the dominant performance by both our seniors and our younger players.”
Senior captain Moses Richardson agreed. “I felt that it was a solid team performance overall. I am proud of the way we fought for the win, but there is always room for improvement,” said Richardson. He played a big role on Sunday, leading the offense with 84 yards on 23 carries. Poggiali and Buckhannon rounded out the Yeomen offense with 97 yards and 53 yards rushing respectively.
The Yeomen have a quick turnaround to prepare for their game against The College of Wooster Scots this Saturday. Every player knows that there is a lot of work to be done. Poggiali commented, “I think it is important to build off our game against Case. We cannot take any team lightly. Respect every opponent and fear no one; that is our motto.”
For Coach Ramsey, the key to success against Wooster will be controlling the line of scrimmage. “We won the turnover battle against Case. Wooster is going to be aggressive and move the ball well both offensively and defensively. If we can control the line of scrimmage on both sides, we will be set.”
“We are a small team,” said Poggiali. “Case had 100 players and I am sure Wooster is a large team as well. We have 35 people on our team. Because of our numbers, we will have to overcome adversity later in the season, but I would rather go to battle with these guys than anyone else.”
Despite small numbers, the team’s chemistry helped them start the season with a win. “We are a tight-knit group and we are all motivated to achieve our goal to win conference. Our coaching staff is unbelievable; Coach Ramsey is one of the best football minds that I have ever come across. We have all the things we need to be successful for the Wooster game and the rest of the season,” said Kisley.
The Yeomen will travel to Wooster this Saturday to take on the Scots at 1 p.m. They then return home for homecoming weekend, Saturday, October 5 to battle the visiting Kenyon College Lords.