Football team closes 2016 season with loss to Wittenberg

The combination of penalties, blocked passes and Jake Kennedy proved too much for Allegheny, as the Gator football team lost 45-8 to Wittenberg University during its final game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Kennedy, Wittenberg’s quarterback, rushed for 91 yards, including a 37-yard run in the first quarter to set up Wittenberg’s first touchdown, as Allegheny struggled to find sustained success. Allegheny’s quarterbacks, Logan Lee, ’19, and Jon Nigro, ’17, ended with a combined total of 157 passing yards.

“[The team has] improved every game,” Head Coach BJ Hammer said. “They showed a lot of mental and physical toughness throughout the season.”

Wittenberg scored first with a 69-yard drive initiated by Kennedy’s run. The Gators almost scored early in the second quarter, but Lee overthrew tight end John McFarland, ’17, in the end zone, and kicker Ben Ziolkowski, ’17, missed the field goal attempt.

The Gators finally found the end zone in the fourth quarter, as running back Tyler Balla, ’19, ran the ball in. Lee ran in the 2-point conversion attempt, but the score was already 38-8.  Wittenberg would add another late touchdown to make the final score 45-8.

“This year, for this last game, we wanted to give it all for the seniors, that have put in four years here, and all we really did was for them, this last game,” said running back Brandon Sellers, ’19.

Hammer said that he expected a difficult season when he took the job this past January, but has hopes for advancing the program.

“I knew that Allegheny had a lot of deficiencies in football, and when you get here, you can really see them,” Hammer said. “As coaches, we’ve got to continue to recruit good young men that are going to be good students here.”

Sellers echoed his teammates, saying the focus for next year would be on getting physically stronger.

“I would say we’ve got to just get bigger in the weightroom,” Sellers said.

Sellers said he appreciated seeing how the team developed throughout the season.

“I love every one of my teammates. They’re clowns. The coaches, as well. I’m a transfer, so it was kind of an experience for me,” Sellers said.

Boone said he believes the team has a bright future ahead of them and Hammer agreed, saying that the number one thing the team needs to do to reach its potential is become physically tougher.

Reflecting on his time with the football team, McFarland noted that the team’s 2016 Homecoming game win was a favorite memory of his.

“I’m going to look back on our win this year against Oberlin. I’ve had a tough four years here, and that was a huge win for us as a program, especially with the new coach,” McFarland said.

Outside linebacker Jahnaaman Boone, ’20, said the close loss to the College of Wooster early in the season helped the team see how the season would progress.

“Even though we were all hurt as a team, it showed us how close we are to becoming what we can be,” Boone said. “Being a young, prospect team, I think we have a long way to go, and I think we have a bright future ahead of us. We have no ceiling.”