October 14, 2008

Football picks up first win in homecoming rout of Oberlin

[img id="76834" align="alignleft"] In front of a full capacity homecoming crowd, the Maroons notched their first win of the season with a 33–7 dismantling of Oberlin College (1–4) Saturday. The victory brought Chicago to 1–3 for the year and showcased the squad’s growing talent along with some veteran leadership.

“There’s a certain amount of development that has to occur with young players,” head coach Dick Maloney said of his squad, which features only six seniors. “There’s a big difference between college football and high school football, just like there’s a big difference between high school math and calc 151.”

Displaying a new level of confidence and determination on the field, the Maroons held a 528–167 edge in total offense and strung together 33 unanswered points—it was one way to win a ball game.

Setting the pace for the Chicago’s landslide victory were fourth-year quarterback John Kiernan (career-high 295 yards passing) and second-year wide receiver Clay Wolff (career-best 154 yards on 11 catches). While Kiernan and Wolff led the charge up the field, second-year nose tackle Dexter McAuley helped anchor the defense with two sacks.

Despite the lopsided score at the final whistle, the Maroons needed a little while to warm up. They threatened a few times in the first quarter but couldn’t capitalize on any chances to grab an early lead. Their first drive of the game ended with a fumble from four yards out that turned the ball over to Oberlin, who picked up the loose ball in their end zone.

“I really think that both sides of the ball did a great job, but offensively, you’d like to take advantage of all scoring opportunities,” said Maloney of the game’s slow start.

From there, the first quarter passed by at a scoreless draw until third-year Wayne Mundekis rushed from two yards out to get Oberlin on the board with 3:14 left in the opening stanza. Second-year kicker Zach Richard then found the uprights for the extra point.

Down 7–0, the Maroons tied things up on their third play of the second quarter on a 20-yard Wolff reverse. Then they took a 13–7 advantage heading into the half when Kiernan connected with Wolff for a six-yard touchdown pass.

Coming back from the break, Chicago didn’t settle for eking out a gradual comeback. Instead, they piled it on with four more touchdowns, two of them by rookies—tailback Francis Adarkwa and wideout Emmett Carrier—for career firsts.

“The players looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s get it done. We got a job to do,’” Maloney said. “I remember John [Kiernan] being very vocal at that point.”

Of course, no landslide victory is possible without a defense to shut down the opposition, and the Maroons executed their game plan of heavy pressure in the backfield. By breaking down the Yeomen’s pocket, Chicago didn’t give fourth-year quarterback Greg Mangan time to complete his passes and drilled him for five sacks.

If the veteran Kiernan was responsible for rallying the Maroons on the sidelines, it was the return of third-year strong safety Cory Swaim to the field that riled up the defense. Back from a hand injury, he nailed the first hard hit of the game that set the tone for the rest of the day.

“He’s a very tough, hard-nosed football player,” said Maloney of Swaim.

Saturday marked a stark turnaround from the Maroons’ previous two contests, where they were on the other side of blowout scores. After losing 49–7 to seventh-ranked Wabash (5–0) September 20 and then 27–6 to Elmhurst (4–1) September 27, the time off from competition proved to be just what Chicago needed.

“It wasn’t a back-to-basics time,” Maloney said. “But the break allowed us to focus more on development as a team rather than preparing for the next opponent.”

While the Maroons will have to be back in action this Saturday when they host Macalester (3–3), they’ll have this week to build off some important momentum. They’ve also won the previous two meetings with the Scots, taking a 21–13 decision last year.

With a noon kickoff, Saturday’s matchup will be Chicago’s last game at Stagg until November 8 when top UAA rival Wash U (3–2) comes to town.