Lords Football Snaps Streak With First Win in 24 Games
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
Clouds covered the Gambier sky for most of the afternoon last Saturday, but the sun shone down on McBride Field for one last play.
The scoreboard showed just 24 seconds remaining when Kenyon starting quarterback Dan Shannon ’13 received a play call the Lords hadn’t run since October 17, 2009. Head Coach Chris Monfiletto stared intently as the offense lined up in victory formation. Shannon took the snap and calmly placed his right knee to the turf. As the quarterback turned around, wide receiver Carlo Gagliardo ’13 ran ahead and jumped on Shannon in celebration. The crowd roared as the Kenyon sideline rushed the field.
The Lords had snapped their 24-game losing streak.
“I’m just speechless,” Shannon said after the game. “This is great.”
Some held back tears, others screamed in joy, and others quietly smiled and took in the feeling. Shannon presented the game ball to Monfiletto, who recorded his first career win as head coach. The team broke the huddle and faced the crowd, which gave the Lords a standing ovation. Several players jumped into the stands, giving high-fives and hugs to classmates and family members.
“That was the best part,” defensive back Luke Bissinger ’13 said. “Just to see all the people cheering was amazing. It felt like a big college football game: everybody jumped into the stands afterwards. Coach [Monfiletto] said ‘go ahead,’ and most of the seniors just went for it.”
“As the clock wound down, it was almost surreal at first,” linebacker Reed Franklin ’14 said. “Seeing all my teammates running out onto the field — it was a relief more than anything. We know how hard we’ve worked.”
“That was the top [moment in my career],” Monfiletto said. “I didn’t take the job to get one win, but the fact that those seniors will remember that for the rest of their lives is what’s really special. These guys won’t remember any of the losses, but they’ll remember Saturday. To see [Bissinger], [Gagliardo] and those guys up in the stands — I don’t know that anything will top that.”
Kenyon dominated Earlham College 31-14, evening their record to 1-1 and dropping the Quakers to 0-2. Earlham’s losing streak now stands at 22 games.
The Lords offense amassed 363 yards and four touchdowns, while the defense tallied four interceptions, held the visitors to 19 rushing yards and maintained a shutout for 51 minutes.
“It was really big for our confidence,” Franklin said. “After 24 losses, people start to second-guess themselves, but I think we knew that our hard work would eventually pay off.”
Kenyon struck late in the first quarter. Running back Brett Williams ’13 took a direct snap in the wildcat formation and found a gap in the line, outrunning the Quaker secondary for the right pylon and a 61-yard touchdown. The play electrified the crowd, and the Earlham defense never recovered.
“I think everybody was just waiting for it to happen,” Williams said. “I saw a huge hole because of the [offensive] line and just went. It got the offense going, but the defense was already really strong. I don’t know if I would call it a spark, because we were ready to [score].”
The Lords reached the endzone three more times, with the third score coming on a trick play following an Earlham turnover just after halftime. Shannon lined up as a wide receiver on the left side, with Williams taking the shotgun snap. Williams ran left and pitched the ball to Shannon, who dropped back and hit a wide-open Tyler Smith ’14 for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
Another touchdown run by Williams, this time 55 yards, sealed the Kenyon victory early in the fourth quarter. The senior finished with 194 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns, both coming on direct snaps.
The Lords’ defense succeeded in frustrating Earlham’s two first-year quarterbacks. Kenyon defensive backs recorded four interceptions: Will Clements ’13 with two and Bissinger and Sam McQuiston ’14 with one each. Linebacker Kolin Sullivan ’14 made 10 tackles on the day, a team high.
“It’s a stepping stone for sure,” Monfiletto said, “but we’re definitely not satisfied with one win. That wasn’t the goal of the season, and it really has nothing to do with wins and losses. It’s how we can rally around our core values, and that started coming to fruition on Saturday.”
“We’re very hostile toward complacency,” Franklin said, echoing his head coach. “Our goal for this season was not to snap a 24-game losing streak. Our goal for this season is to win football games. We’re not satisfied with just one win.”
The Lords host Hiram College this Saturday for the homecoming game, and the team hopes to start a new kind of streak — a winning one.