Falls by Touchdown to NCAC Opponent Earlham
By Colin Smith
Oberlin College football team was never out of Saturday’s
game at Earlham College, trailing only by seven for most of the
game, but in the end not even two 100-yard rushers and three blocked
field goals were enough to overcome Oberlin’s minus-three
By handing Oberlin a 28-21 defeat, the Earlham Quakers jumped ahead
of the Yeomen in the North Coast Athletic Conference with a 3-2
record, while Oberlin dropped to 2-3 in NCAC action.
“I think we should have won,” first-year linebacker
Vance Murphy said. “The defense played really well, but we
broke down in key situations. The offense didn’t put as many
points on the board as we expected.”
The offense was led by Oberlin’s primary running backs, sophomores
Chris Jordan and Travis Oman. Jordan carried the ball 15 times for
126 yards and a touchdown, while Oman gained 107 yards on 19 rushes,
including a score.
The production of Oberlin’s pair of runners far outweighed
that of Earlham’s tailback tandem of Darrian Story and Jermel
Hurt who combined for fewer than 100 yards.
But Jordan and Oman combined for three fumbles, and a fourth turnover
came on a botched punt. Earlham took advantage of the Yeoman miscues,
converting three of the turnovers into touchdowns.
“Our running game was going really well. It kept them unbalanced.
But it was the turnovers that affected us big,” head coach
Jeff Ramsey said.
The turnovers were costly from the very first play from scrimmage,
when Oman rushed for a loss of three yards and fumbled. The ball
was recovered by the Quakers and returned for a touchdown just 14
seconds into the first quarter.
The Yeomen came right back, though, scoring on a one-yard touchdown
pass from senior quarterback Chris Moffatt to sophomore receiver
Scott Barker that was setup by a 66-yard rush by Jordan and a 24-yard
kick return by Barker.
Earlham retook the lead by driving 84 yards for a touchdown a minute
and a half into the second quarter. The Quakers extended their lead
on their next possession when Oberlin’s sophomore punter Ryan
Drews fumbled the snap on a punt attempt, giving Earlham the ball
at Oberlin’s 36. Four plays later, the Quakers were back in
the end zone.
“It was a bad play altogether, for the whole team,”
Undaunted, the Yeomen offense came back onto the field and marched
70 yards downfield on 12 plays before Earlham stopped them at the
2 and forced them to attempt a field goal. Sophomore kicker Steve
Willever made the kick, but a personal foul on a Quaker during the
play gave Oberlin a new set of downs. The Yeomen only needed one
play as Jordan rushed two yards for the score to make it 21-14.
Murphy picked off a Quaker pass on the first drive of the second
half, but the Yeomen coughed the ball up only a minute and a half
later, giving Earlham midfield position. The Quakers scored seven
plays later on a touchdown run by fullback Dan Ries.
“To stop their two tailbacks we did very well,” Ramsey
said. “It was the fullback who got us.” Ries gained
88 yards on 11 carries in the game.
The Yeomen would respond again, though, as Moffatt led the Yeomen
into Quaker territory, where, facing a third and one from the 35,
he hit Shawn Brunner for 25 yards. On the next play, Oman rushed
in from the 10 for Oberlin’s third touchdown of the game.
“Our offensive line did really well at knocking [the Quakers]
off the ball and creating holes,” Shawn Brunner said of the
Yeomen’s successful rushing attack.
Willever nailed the extra point attempt, putting Oberlin back within
a score and breaking Oberlin’s career PAT record at the same
time . He now has 33 in his brief career, including 13 this season.
Unfortunately, he would not get a chance to extend his record as
the Quakers stymied Oberlin in the fourth quarter. Although the
Yeoman special teams kept Oberlin in the game by blocking Quaker
field goals attempts on Earlham’s first two fourth-quarter
drives, the offense could only muster 21 total yards in its first
four possessions of the quarter.
The Yeomen still had a chance, though, when they got the ball back
with 2:09 remaining. Oman got the drive started with runs of 15
and nine yards. Then the handoff went to Jordan, who gained 14 for
a first down, but on the next play he was tackled for a loss of
15. Facing second and 25, Moffatt kept the Yeomen alive with a 19
yard strike to Chad Kutting, but his next two passes fell incomplete,
ending Oberlin’s chances.
Moffatt finished the day 13 of 21 for 119 yards, with Barker as
his primary target. Barker caught five passes for 37 yards, while
Kutting had three catches for 37 yards and Brunner had two for 48.
Murphy had a monster day on defense, amassing 18 tackles —
three for losses — an interception and a blocked field goal.
Sophomore Vorris Mayes was next on the team with 10 solo tackles
and a sack.
The Yeomen’s schedule does not get any easier, as they take
another shot at their third conference win tomorrow at home against
Ohio Wesleyan University. OWU’s Battling Bishops come in with
a record of 2-3 in the conference and 4-4 overall after last week’s
42-3 drubbing of Kenyon. Like the Yeomen, the Bishops have lost
games to both the College of Wooster and Wabash College. The Bishops,
however, defeated Earlham earlier this year 21-14.
Ohio Wesleyan brings a concentrated rushing attack that is averaging
nearly 250 yards per game. The Bishops attempt an average of 50
rushes per game while only passing 20 for less than 120 yards per
game. On the strength of their ground game, the Bishops have outgained
opponents, but they have been outscored by 32 points over their
eight games. Turnovers may be part of their problem as they have
turned the ball over 22 times while only gaining 14 takeaways.
To win tomorrow the Yeomen will have to avoid doing the Bishops
any favors by limiting their turnovers and by taking advantage of
any Bishop mistakes.