Ohio Wesleyan Strikes Quickly in Defeating Yeomen
by Colin Smith

The Oberlin football team was held scoreless for the first three quarters last Saturday as they were defeated by the now 8-1 Battling Bishops of Ohio Wesleyan, 48-13. The Bishops struck early and often with four touchdowns in the first half, each coming on quick, scoring plays of more than 50 yards.
The loss set the Yeomen back to 1-7 for the season and 1-4 in the conference. Since the Yeomen’s 53-22 drubbing of Kenyon on Oct. 20, they have scored just 13 points. They had gone seven quarters without a score before first-year quarterback Jim Cooper hooked up with junior wide receiver Ricky Valenzuela for a three yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter on Saturday.
“We knew going in that [Ohio Wesleyan] was one of the toughest teams in the conference,” first-year wide receiver Zach Lewis said.
The tone of the game was set on its second play, when Ohio Wesleyan quarterback Mike Jonesco found a wide open receiver who easily ran it all the way for a touchdown. Only 39 seconds into the game the Bishops had a 7-0 lead.
Lewis described the play as “a mental breakdown,” as the receiver was left completely uncovered.
Oberlin came on the field looking like they would be able to move the ball well, as first-year quarterback Ryan Squatrito connected with sophomore tight end Brian Senne for 17 yards on their first play. But the Yeomen were unable to produce another first down.
That brought in senior punter Bob Montag and the punting team, who made the first of several excellent special teams plays on the day. Montag’s punt took a favorable bounce and was downed by Oberlin coverage at the Bishop 1.
As it did for much of the game, the Yeomen defense looked good on the following Ohio Wesleyan drive, allowing them only three yards and forcing them to punt. The punt was short and would have given the Yeomen excellent field position at the Bishop 39, but Oberlin’s near-successful attempt to block the kick led to a roughing the kicker penalty which gave Ohio Wesleyan 15 yards and a new set of downs.
“That happens when you’re aggressive,” Head Coach Jeff Ramsey said.
The Bishops then drove as far as the Oberlin 38 before sophomore defensive lineman Jesus Juarez nailed Jonesco for a six-yard loss, causing a fumble on the sack. First-year lineman Jason Eiseman recovered it for the Yeomen.
Two plays later Squatrito threw right into the hands of Chad Marlatt of the Bishops. None of the Yeomen offensive players were able to make a tackle as Marlatt ran down the sideline for 55 yards and a touchdown and Ohio Wesleyan claimed a 14-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later the Bishops struck again as the Yeomen went three-and-out, and Ohio Wesleyan halfback Jason Osborne rushed 66 yards for a touchdown on the first play of their drive.
Zach Lewis set the Yeomen up with good field position with a 31-yard kickoff return, but they to were struggle on offense, managing just six plays before having to punt. Montag’s kick was downed at the 10, his second inside the 20, but Jonesco immediately hit a receiver for 62 yards and only a great effort by sophomore defensive back Mark Lengel saved a touchdown.
The Yeomen regained possession on a fumble, but could generate nothing on the following drive, and the Bishops knocked Squatrito out of the game.
Ohio Wesleyan saved their biggest play for the last score of the half. After a Montag punt, a beautiful pass defense by senior Sam Hobi, and good stop by the defensive line had the Bishops pinned at their own 20, Jonesco found receiver Joe Clinton who ran the length of the field for an 80-yard touchdown.
Oberlin followed with their only lengthy drive of the half, highlighted by a 36-yard pass from Cooper, replacing Squatrito, to Lewis. They got as far as the Ohio Wesleyan 19, but the Bishops sacked Cooper for a loss of 10 yards, and first-year kicker Steve Willever’s 45-yard attempt was short.
At the half the Yeomen trailed 28-0 and had accumulated fewer than 100 yards.
“We had a rough day on offense,” Lewis said.
Defensively the Yeomen were playing much better than they had against Wabash, another team that had run up a big first half score against them. Whereas the defense had been unable to make a stop against Wabash, it made stops on all but four plays against Ohio Wesleyan.
“We made some mistakes that you just can’t make against good teams, [but] as far as having a physical-type game we matched them blow for blow,” Ramsey said. “They expected us to be pansies. We’re not. We’re a tough football team.”
Ohio Wesleyan added a less flashy touchdown in the third quarter, before Cooper engineered the Yeomen’s first scoring drive beginning with 2:27 left in the third and ending with the pass to Valenzuela a minute and 15 seconds into the fourth. Willever’s kick was blocked.
Much to the disgust of the fans, Ohio Wesleyan literally added insult to injury, being called for two personal fouls and two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties over the game’s final 35 minutes. The penalties overshadowed the Bishop’s two fourth quarter touchdowns that increased their lead to 48-6.
“They didn’t act like a championship team,” Ramsey said of the penalties. He added that when he asked an official about his own players the official responded, “Coach, your guys are being competitive. All they’re doing is being competitive.”
The Yeomen proved their competitiveness in their final drive. Down by 42 with only five minutes remaining, Cooper had to come out of the game. Junior Chris Moffatt replaced him, facing a third-and-nine situation, and hit Lewis for 11 yards. The Yeomen converted a fourth-and-one to keep the drive alive, and then first-year receiver Scott Barker made a remarkable diving catch near the sideline at the two, perhaps the best play by either team in the game. A play later Moffatt kept the ball and snuck a yard into the end zone for a moral victory touchdown.
First-year Chris Handley said the highlight of the game was “that we didn’t give up. In a couple of years we’ll be able to probably beat that team.”
This Saturday the Yeomen will face the 2-7 Denison Big Red, in the last home game of the season. Denison possesses the best passing offense in the conference, but has also allowed an average of 48 points per game.
“They might throw the ball 65 times in a game,” Ramsey said. “I think our [defensive] strength is against the passing game.”
Against common opponents Case Western Reserve, Wabash, Kenyon and Ohio Wesleyan, both Oberlin and Denison are 1-3. Denison has been outscored 197-115 in those games, while Oberlin has put up 111 points and given up 171. In last year’s contest between the two, the Yeomen held Denison to minus ten rushing yards and sacked their quarterback 15 times in a 14-6 loss.
“They’re a team that we should just destroy,” first-year running back Travis Oman said. “Our offensive line should own their defensive line.”

Despite the Big Red’s horrific defense, to defeat them the Yeomen will have to bring the offense that scored 53 points against Kenyon, rather than the one that’s managed 13 points in the last eight quarters.
“We just have to keep from hurting ourselves with penalties and turnovers,” Lewis said.


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