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Amidst the burgers, beer, and buzzing crowd at this year’s homecoming, the Maroons seemed determined to ensure that football was not forgotten. In front of a multitude of tailgaters and a packed crowd inside Stagg Field, the Maroons crushed Denison 36–7 at the University’s annual homecoming game, winning their second straight game and improving to 4–2 on the season.
The game featured the triumphant return from injury of fourth-year quarterback Marshal Oium, who had been sidelined with a broken bone in his hand. Having been sidelined since the team’s loss to Elmhurst during its third game, Oium completed 11 of 19 passes on the day, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for one.
“I have had to adjust my game a lot,” Oium said. “This week, I couldn’t just rely on my strong arm to get the job done because I couldn’t throw the ball very well. I had to run the ball more and focus more on making accurate throws than I ever have in the past.”
After an early first-quarter score from Denison, putting them up 7–0, the Maroons capitalized on strong initial field position, driving 32 yards and culminating in a six-yard strike from Oium to second-year receiver Dee Brizzolara, tying the game.
Far from finished, the Maroons’ special teams continued to impress as third-year linebacker Danny Polaneczky blocked a punt on Denison’s ensuing possession. Polaneczky proceeded to recover the ball in the end zone for the Maroons’ second score in less than two minutes.
Polaneczky, who has recovered a blocked punt in each of the past two games, attributed the unit’s success to strong coaching, stating, “Our special teams play especially on punt block, has been very effective due to our special teams coach Dan Gritti designing great schemes for us to attack the punt.”
The Maroons, who have made a sport of beating up Denison for homecoming, winning last year’s game 38–7, would not relinquish the lead again.
Chicago’s stingy defense kept Denison from recovering the deficit. Fourth-year cornerback Steve Tsilimos led a dominant defensive line with two interceptions. Manhandling the Big Red blockers on its way to nine sacks, the defense held Denison to 148 yards of total offense on the day. Denison had a total of -19 rushing yards on the day.
“When the front seven of our defense is stopping the run and getting pressure on the quarterback like it did this past game,” Tsilimos said. “It really makes my job a whole lot easier and helps me be able to make big plays.”
“[Third-year] corner Emmett Carrier and I have actually joked that we wish our D-line would get fewer sacks so we can get more chances at interceptions,” he added.
In the second quarter, Chicago’s ground game scored twice. Third-year running back Francis Adarkwa scampered into the end zone from five yards out to cap a 78-yard Chicago drive, improving the score to 20–7.
The Maroons scored once again on their following possession. On a second-and-ten from the Denison’s 27-yard-line, Oium decided to keep the ball himself, outpacing the Big Red linebackers and defensive backs along the sideline on the way to another score.
Oium, who finished the day as the team’s leading passer and rusher, explained his run: “I saw the defensive end crash down to tackle the running back; I decided to keep the ball and run around the edge. Once I got out there I got great blocking from my receivers and saw some room to the outside and got into the end zone untouched. Our receivers pride themselves in being the best blocking wide-receiver core in the nation, and my run was the result of the them taking blocking seriously.”
The Maroons headed into halftime up by a score of 27–7. In the third quarter, a safety and a touchdown from Oium to fourth-year wide receiver Clay Wolff brought the game to its final score.
Denison, who fell to 3–3 on the season, ironically—and perhaps necessarily—broke ground on a new $38.5-million athletic facility this past week.
The Maroons, who have won their last two games in dominant fashion, will have an extra week off to prepare for a trip to Gambier, OH to play Kenyon on October 23.
With UAA competition following the upcoming break, Oium stressed the importance of the time off.
“The upcoming bye week will give us a chance to get everyone healthy and concentrate on things that we need to get better at, without having to worry about getting ready for another opponent.”