RICHMOND, Ind. – The Wilmington College football team dominated Earlham College in all facets of the game Saturday in a 49-7 victory in the 2018 season-opener at Darrell Beane Stadium.
The Fightin’ Quakers started off well, forcing the Hustlin’ Quakers into a three-and-out and promptly scoring on their first offensive possession. Starting quarterback Kyle Barrett, making his first collegiate start, engineered a nine-play, 73-yard drive capped by a six-yard touchdown run from DJ Chambers on fourth and goal.
“We talked in pre-game about hopefully getting a three-and-out, receive the punt and score within the first five plays,” head coach Bryan Moore said. “We were close to executing that. With the number of freshmen and first-year starters we have, it was important to settle those guys down with that kind of start.”
After another three-and-out forced by the Wilmington defense, Barrett found Jordan Harris for a 31-yard touchdown pass, putting the visitors on top 14-0 with 5:39 to play in the first quarter. Earlham did move the chains once on the ensuing possession, but a holding penalty combined with an incomplete pass and a rush for no gain stalled the drive.
Wilmington took over on its own 25-yard line, and after a rush for no gain and a incomplete pass, Barrett found AJ Hightower down the sideline for 14 yards. On the next play, Barrett drilled Luke Richardson with a pass over the middle. The Clinton-Massie High School standout broke one tackle and outran the Earlham secondary for Wilmington’s third touchdown of the game.
Earlham drove into Wilmington territory on the next drive, but a CJ Crayton tackle for loss forced another Earlham punt. The visitors took advantage as Malik Sims bounced a run outside for a 48-yard score giving Wilmington a 28-0 lead.
Yet another three-and out for Earlham and a seven-play, 70-yard touchdown drive from Wilmington pushed the score to 35-0 with 5:40 to play in the half.
Then Mother Nature intervened as a storm came through Richmond, forcing a nearly two-hour delay.
“Our players were loose throughout the delay,” said Moore. “They were stretching, some of them lifted weights, and we might have even started a yoga class in there. With a team as young as ours, I was really impressed with our emotional intelligence to be able to pick up right where they left off.”
After the break, Wilmington’s defense quickly forced a punt. The snap went over Earlham punter Jordan Christian’s head. Aaron Johnston rushed three consecutive players including a 12-yard run that setup a touchdown plunge to put Wilmington on top 42-0 at halftime.
Both teams scored once in the second half. Chambers found pay dirt for the second time with a 31-yard run in the third quarter while Earlham mounted a four-play, 71-yard drive in the closing minutes.
Wilmington outgained Earlham 496-168 offensively including a 262-93 edge in passing yards and 234-75 in rushing yards. Dylan Fawley, a Blanchester High School graduate, started at left tackle on the WC offense line that overpowered Earlham the entire game.
Barrett finished 11-of-14 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Richardson and Harris both caught a touchdown pass.
“We tried to stretch the field early with our passing game,” Moore said. “We were able to get the ball out in space and let our receivers make plays in space. Being that efficient in your first collegiate start will give Kyle [Barrett] a lot of confidence.”
Four Wilmington running backs carried the ball six or more times including DJ Chambers, who finished with 73 yards on seven carries and two scores. Sims had six rushes for 52 yards and a touchdown.
“We have a good mixture of running backs with some speed and some guys who are tougher. DJ [Chambers] has the whole package. He has elite speed and is a load to take down.”
Defensively, Aaron Volle, Steve Broussard, Weston Trampler and Kyle Ackley all recorded at least five tackles. Trampler, another Clinton-Massie grad, recorded three sacks for a total of 29 yards lost. Kobe Walker led Earlham with 15 tackles in defeat.
“There weren’t glaring errors defensively in the game like there were last year,” Moore said. “Our defense was physical with a lot of gang tackles. It’s a sign of a maturing defense when so many people are getting to the football.”
Wilmington (1-0) has a bye week next week before opening Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) play at Ohio Northern University on Sept. 15.