By Pete Chiodo
Asked if there was any positives his team could take away from Saturday’s game, if there was anything his young, work-in-progress squad could build from, Allegheny College head football coach Mark Matlak took a long pause.
A very long pause.
Eventually he let out, “I’ll probably see something (today) when we’re watching tape. But my first impression is that it was pretty ugly.”
It was indeed a tough way to start the season, as Kenyon handled the Gators 37-7 yesterday at Frank B. Fuhrer Field.
Kenyon head coach Chris Monfiletto was, understandably, more positive about the day’s outcome.
“I’m very happy with the way we played,” he said. “I love coach Matlak. Allegheny is a tough team. And to come out here and play as well as we did against them, it just felt great. I’m happy for my players.”
The Lords (1-0) took command right from the start. Allegheny netted negative-eight yards on its first three offensive plays.
Kenyon took over on its own 11 and marched off the 89 yards on 14 plays, polishing it off with a two-yard touchdown carry by Blake Calcei.
That drive, said Matlak, “was like an avalanche. We couldn’t stop them. We couldn’t make a play.”
Allegheny’s second drive also went backwards eight yards. Like the first, it featured two rushes that were stopped at the line and then a third-down sack.
With the ball back in their hands, the Lords went 64 yards on nine plays, scoring on a third-and-11 when quarterback Jake Bates connected with receiver Brian Hunca on a 39-yard touchdown strike.
Allegheny got its wheels turning a bit on the third drive, making it across midfield into Kenyon territory. But a fumble on first and long gave the pigskin back to the Lords.
Their first play of the possession — a pass from Bates to Jibri McLean — went 54 yards to the Gators’ 2. Allegheny’s defense held them off until fourth down when Calcei made it across the plane for the second time. This one was a one-yarder. Kenyon went for 2 and made it, taking a 22-0 lead.
Allegheny got it going a little bit at the end of the first half, getting all the way down to the Lords’ 4 yard line. However, Ryan Mong’s eventual 26-yard field goal was wide left.
The Gators had a little momentum left to start the third quarter, taking their first possession from their own 34 to Kenyon’s 23. But freshman quarterback Jon Nigro was picked off in the end zone.
Then on Kenyon’s opening down of the next drive, running back Brandon January broke an 80-yarder for a touchdown. Another 2-pointer made it 30-0.
January ended up leading the Lords on the ground, gaining 143 yards on 10 carries.
Allegheny finally snapped the shutout with about five minutes left in the third. Nigro’s pass towards receiver Andrew Nicklaus was tipped by a Kenyon defender. Nicklaus grabbed the carom and had nothing by open field in front of him. It was a 52-yard touchdown play.
That would be it for the Gators’ scoring.
Kenyon added a TD in the fourth — a 12-yard pass from Max Boyd to running back Casey Beaudouin. Boyd was in for Bates, who had left the field halfway into the second quarter with a dislocated thumb on his throwing hand.
“I don’t know (Blake’s diagnosis) right now,” said Monfiletto. “They popped (the thumb) back in place. But I don’t know. We’ll have to see.”
Blake was having quite a game, too. He completed 8 of his 10 attempts for 153 yards and one touchdown.
Overall, Kenyon out-gained Allegheny 439 to 246.
Allegheny alternated quarterbacks throughout the game. Nigro completed 8 of 18 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown. He was picked off twice. Sophomore Kyle Smith made 2-of-4 passes for 14 yards and was one of Allegheny’s leading rushers with 31 yards on 13 carries. Fullback Nick Deichler also had 31 yards on eight carries.
Niklaus finished with 90 yards and a score on four receptions. Lucas Morton caught five passes for 77 yards.
It was there that Matlak found a ray of light.
“One of our bright spots was our receivers,” he said. “If we can get the ball to our two receivers, if we can protect the quarterback so he can get them the ball, we could be okay.”
The Gators, now 0-1, next travel to Pittsburgh to take on Carnegie Mellon Saturday at 1 p.m.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” said Matlak. “I know what we have. I knew it was going to be a long climb. And we have a lot of work to do with this team. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves and see what we can get out of this. We have to find some positives we can hang out hat on. That has yet to be done.”