Football Team Loses Third Straight Game to Bishops


Simeon Deutsch

First-year running back Khalil Rivers is tackled by an Ohio Wesleyan defender. Though the Yeomen fell 50–13 to the Battling Bishops, Rivers managed 42 yards on 15 carries.

Nate Levinson and Tyler Sloan

The football team dropped its third consecutive game against the Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops last Saturday, falling 50–13 at home and pushing its season record to 2–7.

The Yeomen fell behind early in the game, giving up 17 unanswered points in the first 11 minutes in the form of two rushing touchdowns and a Bishops field goal. The scores on the ground foreshadowed the Yeomen’s defeat, as the Bishops ended up racking up over 175 yards and four touchdowns on the ground over the course of the game.

Although the final score was lopsided, Oberlin hung tough in the first half on the heels of two second-quarter scoring strikes from junior quarterback Lucas Poggiali to sophomore receiver Justin Cruz.

The first score came after junior Gabe Edwards recovered a fumble by Bishops returner Kevin Herman following a 69-yard punt by senior Max Schenk. The Yeomen quickly cashed in on the scoring opportunity as Poggiali hit Cruz for a touchdown from seven yards out.

The next scoring drive was a completely different story. The Yeomen drove 76 yards down the field in just over four minutes, culminating in a one-yard strike from Poggiali to Cruz. The hookup was their ninth of the season.

“The second scoring drive was 17 plays, and it was a nice drive where we were able to convert and get into a lot of third and mediums and go for it on fourth and short,” said Head Coach Jay Anderson. “That was a drive where the offense was firing on all cylinders.”

The score cut the Bishops’ lead to 23–13 and gave the Yeomen a chance at victory heading into the second half. The chance didn’t last long, however, as the Bishops scored four unanswered touchdowns to open the second half, taking a commanding 37-point lead.

“I think the turning point was when they had a couple of quick scores in a couple of minutes, and then the offense turned around and we had a couple of three-and-outs,” said Poggiali. “By not being able to keep the defense off the field for a while to let them rest and find themselves, we put the defense in a situation where they had to make stops.”

Anderson attributed the team’s struggles in the second half to a lack of experience in being consistently competitive deep into its games.

“For a lot of guys, that was their first time coming out of the locker room and being in a game and still having a chance to win,” he said. “Everything is a learning process for our young players. They came out, and we were a bit flat, and they were ready to roll. Our guys have to come out and play fast and be ready to roll.”

Poggiali in particular struggled to get into any kind of rhythm for the majority of the game, finishing just 14 for 39 for 125 yards. Anderson pointed out several shortcomings in Saturday’s contest that led to the Yeomen loss.

“[Poggiali] missed some passes, and I thought the receivers dropped some passes as well early on in the game,” said Anderson. “It’s just about continuing to work to get those guys on the same page.”

Even so, Anderson has hope that the coaches and Poggiali can make the necessary adjustments to get the junior quarterback back on track for the last game of the season.

“We’ve tried to do some things differently in the past games; we’re trying to get the ball out fast to allow [Poggiali] to hit receivers in stride and not hold onto the football,” said Anderson. “I think that will allow him to have a higher completion percentage this week. He has to put the ball on the receivers.”

The end result was especially disappointing for the Yeomen since it was the final home game for the five seniors on the team.

“We definitely wanted to play harder for [the seniors], knowing it was the last time they would get to play at home,” Poggiali said. “We love everyone on the team, and we have a pretty close bond. … We wanted to make sure that the seniors went out on a high note. Obviously it wasn’t the outcome that we wanted, but we did a lot of good things for one half of football.”

Though the game was Schenk’s last on Oberlin’s home turf, he said he did not want to harp on that fact to prevent his emotions from getting in the way of his focus.

“For me, it was like this was a game like any other game that I want to win,” he said. “Rallying behind the seniors can be motivational, or it could be a distraction. I told people, ‘Don’t focus on me; just worry about yourself and focus on your game and playing your best.’”

The next and final game for the Yeomen is this Saturday on the road against the Hiram College Terriers. Last season, the Yeomen dismantled the Terriers at home in their season finale by a score of 47–13, but Anderson says that he believes a victory may not be so easy to come by this time around.

“Hiram’s a different team this year than they were last year,” he said. “They have a little bit more of an experienced defense. They’re having one of their better seasons in recent history.”

In order to win, the Yeomen will have to play their own brand of football.

“We have to focus on us,” Anderson said. “We have to run the ball on the first and second down, being able to throw the ball effectively and efficiently and taking care of the ball. Whether it’s running or passing, we have to figure out that balance that works best for us.”

Another key for the Yeomen will be to keep their emotions in check as they strive to end their seniors’ careers with a victory.

“It’s a special game for our seniors,” said Anderson. “For those guys, it’s the end of the road here playing college football, and you’ll forever remember the last game you played in college. It’s going to be an emotional game for our five seniors, and we hope to perform well so we can send them off the right way.”