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October 26, 2010

Special teams dominate in win over Kenyon

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Kenyon is nobody’s idea of a powerhouse football team. The Lords were annihilated last week by seventh-ranked Wittenberg, losing 52-0 while giving up 655 yards of total offense. The Maroons, however, took nothing for granted and came out swinging in their final game before conference play to win 35–14.

The Maroons struck first when fourth-year quarterback Marshall Oium, in his second game back from an injury, connected with fellow fourth-year Clay Wolff from 19 yards out halfway through the first quarter. “Clay and I have developed such a great connection with each other that we always read the coverage the same and are thinking the same thing on routes.” Said Oium, “I can probably throw to him with my eyes closed”

A 19-yard run from fourth-year Tommy Parks put the Maroons up 14-0 later in the quarter. The Maroons took a stranglehold on the game at the end of the quarter with an 80-yard bomb from Oium to second-year Dee Brizzolara.

“It was a simple post route with Clay running a deep out underneath me. Both the safety and corner covered him and I was left wide open down the field,” said Brizzolara. “I don’t think it broke [the game] open, but it definitely put us in a comfort zone being up by 21.”

Being ahead early was one of the goals head coach Richard Maloney set for his team going into Friday’s game. Last year the Maroons had to come back from 18 points down in the fourth quarter to win, and given that Kenyon had yet to win a game, Maloney did not want to give the Lords any extra motivation. “Coming out fast against a team like that is important. We scored 21 points on 19 offensive plays, so I think we accomplished that goal,” said Maloney.

Oium agreed that coming out early was a major priority for the Maroons, not just last Friday, but in every game that the Maroons play: “We try to jump on teams as early as possible and beat them physically and mentally so they believe they have no chance of beating us.”

The rout turned historic in the second quarter. After pinning the Lords deep in their own territory, third-year Cameron Grimes blocked the Kenyon punt, which was retrieved and returned for a touchdown by third-year Daniel Polanczsky, marking the fifth time the Maroons had returned a blocked punt for a touchdown this season. The score tied an NCAA Division III record set by Widener College in 1990.

“We had no clue that we tied any record,” said Polanczky. “But it’s pretty exciting… [this] should inspire our punt block team to turn up the aggressiveness and come out even harder against our UAA foes.”

The record is no accident, according to Maloney. “I’d say we spend three times as much time on special teams than most teams in the country. The players believe in what we’re doing.”

Maloney echoed the sentiments of Polanczky that while the record is not something they actively pursue, the Maroons will continue to be aggressive on special teams. “We’d love to return a punt for a touchdown every game,” laughed Maloney.

The Maroons begin conference play next week in a hotly anticipated matchup against the undefeated Spartans of Case Western at Stagg Field. Brizzollara downplayed the importance of playing a dangerous Case squad. “[We’ll prepare] the same way we do every week. We’ll make adjustments, put in new plays we think would be effective, and prepare as best we can to beat them. It’s just another game.”

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