By DAN MARCUS
After scoring a total of only 13 points in their last two games, the football team scored 31 points in their first victory in three weeks at Kenyon Saturday.
The Gators never trailed in their decisive victory over Kenyon that ended with a final score of 31-17, improving their record to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
After struggling offensively in their last two games, the offense produced 338 yards Saturday. Quarterback Jordan Fowler, ’12, threw for 271 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The running game is still a point of concern for Coach Matlak. The Gators ran the ball for a total of only 584 yards this year, and their opponents have outgained them by nearly 300 yards on the ground.
The run game Kenyon doubled the Gator run game production with 143 yards to Allegheny’s 67. Fowler stressed that to win more consistently, the Gators would need to run more effectively.
“We just need to be successful in both areas because they work off each other,” said Fowler. “If we are passing the ball well, then it is going to open up our running game and vice versa.”
Players felt that their running game improved, allowing the opportunity for Fowler to find his receivers.
“Being able to run the ball effectively allowed us to set up for some very big pass plays down the field,” senior left tackle Sam Taylor, the offensive captain, said. “We had a day where everyone played well as a unit, where the running backs, receivers, offensive line, and quarterback all did their individual jobs.”
“Our offense as a whole executed much better against Kenyon than we have in previous weeks,” Fowler said. “We finished drives to put some points on the board, but we also could have been even better.”
Matlak also credited his special teams for improvement on Saturday. Two long kick returns gave the Gators good field position and easy points. The special teams unit also produced their first blocked punt of the season. Kicker Ryan Zipf, ’12, added a 42-yard field goal.
On the defensive side of the ball, Matlak stressed the need to eliminate big plays. The defense has had big plays of its own. Colin Hartford, ’13, intercepted his third pass of the year and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Gators a commanding 31-10 lead.
The Gators seek to continue their offensive productivity against Denison (3-3, 1-1) on Saturday. Allegheny won 21 of 22 meetings against the Big Red. However, Coach Matlak noted their improvement in all facets of their game, and looks to his offense to carry the team.
“The Denison defense has dominated our offense recently,” said Matlak. “We need to move the football and break out a bit against them.”
The Gators will have a challenge on defense as well. Denison running back Sam Fiorni leads the NCAC in rushing with 647 yards and quarterback Max Paulus has 13 touchdowns and has completed 60.5 percent of his passes this season. On average, the Big Red offense gains 405 yards per game. On defense, Denison presents a new challenge for the Gator offensive line.
“Their defensive line is small and quick and moves around a lot, which is different from the other defensive lines we have seen so far,” said Taylor.
The Gators will have a chance to bump their record above the .500 mark for the first time this season at home on Saturday at 1 p.m.