Wittenberg University junior Nick Kendall (5) and senior Noah Dehnke (87) celebrate Kendall’s 75-yard TD run with fans during the Tigers 45-3 victory over Kenyon at Edwards-Maurer Field in Springfield. The Tigers won their 17th straight regular season game. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Wittenberg Tigers blast Kenyon 45-3 to improve to 3-0

After finishing a 75-yard touchdown run, Kendall ran over the alumni section in attendance for Champions Night where he gave high-fives to multiple former Tigers football players.

Kendall finished with 113 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries as the 14th-ranked Tigers cruised to a 45-3 victory over Kenyon in North Coast Athletic Conference action at Edwards-Maurer Field on Saturday night.

Wittenberg improved to 3-0 and 2-0 in the conference in front of more than 2,500 fans, including members of seven different Wittenberg conference championship teams, including the 1973 D-III national champions.

“One of my good buddies Jack Kayser did that two or three years ago,” Kendall said. “I saw some of those guys I’ve met on campus and I knew I had to show my respect to the guys who’ve played here before and won championships. Hopefully, we’ll be down there.”

Tigers sophomore Jaheem Washington added 123 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries as the Tigers gained 543 yards of total offense, including 336 yards rushing. Kendall’s long touchdown run gave Wittenberg a 21-0 second quarter lead in a game where it never trailed.

“I was pleased with how we started and I was pleased with how well we ran the football,” Tigers coach Joe Fincham said. “Our defense got better as the game went on. We got a lot out of this. We’ve got a lot to work on. We’ve got a big one next week.”

Kendall entered the season in the mix at running back, but became the starter after senior DeShawn Sarley was ruled out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.

It was a breakout game for the junior who rushed for 23 yards in the team’s first two wins.

“DeShawn and I are good buddies,” Kendall said. “We work hard together. He told me since (the injury happened) I’m glad you’re the one filling in.”

Kendall scored on a two-yard run and Tigers quarterback Jake Kennedy found Liam Duncan on a 23-yard TD pass to give Wittenberg a 14-0 first quarter lead.

After Kendall’s long TD run, Kenyon’s Ryan Cooper scored the lone points for the Lords (0-4, 0-1) with a 23-yard field goal.

In the final two minutes of the first half, Adam Acquista hit a 30-yard field and Kennedy found Jeff Tiffner on a 43-yard TD pass to give the Tigers a 31-3 halftime lead.

In the fourth quarter, defensive end Micah Vann dropped back into coverage, picked off a Lords pass and sprinted down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown. Junior Troy Jones also ran an interception back for a touchdown, but it was called back due to a penalty.

“I was really pleased with the explosiveness of our team,” Fincham said. “Quite frankly, we left some points on the board.”

Kennedy finished the game 15-for-19 for 207 yards and two touchdowns, finding eight different receivers.

Next week, the Tigers travel to Denison (2-1, 2-0), who beat Oberlin 52-27 on Saturday. The Big Red beat Wittenberg 24-21 in its last trip to Granville in 2016 on a field goal in the final minute of the game — their first victory over the Tigers since 1989.

Since that loss, Wittenberg has won 17 straight regular season games. Last year, the Tigers beat Denison 28-12 in Springfield.

“Denison has really improved in recent years,” Fincham said. “Their coaching staff has done a great job and their players have bought in. It’ll be a great challenge for our guys.”

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