A season of hope began in a game of disappointment as Oberlin football fell to Swarthmore 42-6 last Saturday. The win snapped Swarthmore's 28-game losing streak - the nation's current longest - and ran the Yeomen's losing streak to 20 games.
The Yeomen looked good right out of the box, as first-year tailback Josh Shapaka ran for five and then caught a six-yard pass from first-year quarterback Chris Moffatt for a first down. They were unable to preserve any momentum, however, and Swarthmore returned Moffatt's 33 yard punt 22 yards to the OC 48 yard line. The Garnet Tide promptly marched down the field for the score, punching it in on an eight yard pass from quarterback Scott Murray to Charlie Ellis and capping the effort with a successful extra point by Robert Castellucci. Castellucci would go on to put all six of his extra point efforts through the crossbars.
Oberlin and Swarthmore went on to trade the ball several times through the end of the first quarter and most of the second quarter before Swat broke through with another score. Murray again connected with Ellis, this time from 37 yards out, and Castellucci's kick made the score 14-0 in favor of the Garnet Tide.
The Yeomen got the ball back on their own 27 with 3:05 left on the clock, and nothing looked different initially. But following an incomplete pass, Shapaka broke through for nine yards, and junior tailback Adisa Chaney was able to pull through with a two yard run for the first down. Shapaka would soon break through with a 22 yard run to the Swarthmore 36 on third and eight. Only 17 seconds remained in the first half, and Oberlin spent a timeout. When play resumed, a pass interference penalty gave the Yeomen the ball at the edge of the red zone. Moffatt dropped back and put it long to senior Jabari Spruill for the score. However, following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty -for excessive celebration- the two point conversion attempt failed and the game went to the half with the Yeomen only trailing by the score of14-6.
Potentially down by only one score and with a running game that finally seemed to be clicking, the situation was far from bleak. The Yeomen came out for the third quarter still seemingly in the ball game, but it was not to be. The Garnet Tide marched down the field for a touchdown on the first possession of the half, making it 21-6.
The Oberlin offense stalled after only 12 yards and Swarthmore capitalized on the field position taking just three plays to score. Oberlin passed for another first down on their next drive, but were again unable to make anything more of it. Following the punt, Swarthmore scored yet again, and the score was 35-6 as the third quarter ended. Oberlin was unable to move the ball yet again, and Swarthmore scored for the final time on their first possession of the fourth quarter.
The Yeomen, encouragingly, have not taken the loss in stride. Most are angry, upset, and all are disappointed. "We put in a lot of hard work, and we don't deserve to lose like that," first-year offensive lineman Barya Schacter said.
Sophomore defensive back Dave Smolev agreed. "I don't think they were a better team than we were...and we're gonna come out on Saturday and beat Thiel."
Schacter traced one of the reasons for the disappointment to a sheer numbers game. "We just don't have enough players," he said. Oberlin's squad of 32 players is often 20-30 members less than their opponents. "Oberlin football has a long way to go, before we get where we want to be, but we're definitely moving in the right direction," Schacter said.
The Yeomen return to action in their home opener Saturday against Thiel at 1 p.m.
Practice makes perfect? Despite an impressive effort by the Yeomen during their season opener against Swarthmore, they dropped their 20th straight game this past Saturday. (photo by Pauline Shapiro)
Copyright © 1999, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 128, Number 2, September 10, 1999
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