GAMBIER — The Wabash College football team kept the ball on the ground Saturday, churned up 468 rushing yards and spoiled Homecoming at Kenyon College with a 47-14 win over the host Lords.
The North Coast Athletic Conference win improved the Little Giants’ record to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference, while the Lords fell to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in NCAC play.
The Wabash backfield combo of Austin Hoover and Isaac Avante took complete control of the game. Hoover, a senior, plowed through the Kenyon defense for 255 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries. Avante, a junior, ran the ball nine times and racked up 166 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Hoover scored on a four-yard run in the first quarter, a 37-yard run in the second quarter and then scored twice in the third quarter on runs of 17 and 44 yards. Avante got his touchdown in the second quarter, breaking off a 98 yard run down the right sideline.
Wabash’s 468 yards of rushing was a big chunk of their total offensive output of 588 yards. On the other side of the ball, Kenyon relied on its air attack, which produced 264 yards. The Lords ground game contributed just 43 yards.
The Little Giants led 14-0 after one quarter and 27-0 after two. The Little Giants also owned a 40-0 lead late in the third quarter before the Kenyon offense scored its first TD.
Starting from their own 25-yard line, the Lords put together a 14-play, 75-yard drive that spanned almost five minutes. Junior quarterback Thomas Merkle was 8-of-12 for 57 yards during the drive. From the Wabash 10-yard line, Merkle lofted a touchdown pass to Justin Bosch, who snared it in the back left corner of the end zone.
When possession flipped, the Lords defense forced Wabash into a three-and-out and the two teams headed to the fourth quarter of play with Kenyon taking over on its own 21-yard line.
Again, Merkle went to the air to produce another Kenyon scoring drive, this one covering eight plays, 79 yards and 2:06 of game time. Senior running back Rob Meagher started the drive with a four-yard run and later ended the drive with a five-yard touchdown run. In between those two plays, Merkle threw seven consecutive passes, racking up another 55 passing yards.
Merkle finished the game 39-of-63 for 264 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Ian Robertson was Merkle’s top target, hauling in 10 receptions for 100 yards. Bosch ended up with six catches, including the touchdown, for 65 yards, while Zach Filips hauled in eight passes for 62 yards.
Meagher was the Lords’ leading ground-gainer, covering 28 yards on 14 carries.
On the defensive side, the Lords got a team-high nine tackles from junior linebacker Sam Dickey and another eight tackles from sophomore Josh Jones.