Offensive struggles, five turnovers result in third straight loss for football
With the game on the line and only 56 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Washington University sophomore wide receiver Tim Bartholomew caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Eric Daginella, narrowing Coe College’s lead to just six points.
However, the Bears’ special teams could not recover senior kicker Eric Chalifour’s onside kick, resulting in a 20-14 loss at home Saturday.
The Bears’ loss on Saturday dropped them to 0-3. The last time Wash. U. opened the season with three consecutive losses was in 1989, head coach Larry Kindbom’s first year at the University.
“[Coe is] a great football team,” Kindbom said. “They came in averaging about 500 yards a game on offense, which is really impressive. I think our kids played a great game, and we are getting better. I feel great about that…obviously it doesn’t feel great to lose.”
While they are winless, the Bears are taking on arguably the toughest schedule in Wash. U. history. In addition, the team has only fallen short by a few crucial plays in the past two games.
“There’s no turning around now. Our guys are getting better every game. It just matters about the next game, stepping up and getting even better,” Kindbom said. “We’re strictly focusing on progress right now. We would obviously like to make progress faster, but we are where we are, and I’m excited about the next step.”
Wash. U. committed five turnovers in the game, an unusually high amount and perhaps the most crucial factor that consequently led to their loss. Of the five turnovers, senior quarterback Dan Burkett threw three interceptions, one of them in the red zone.
“Interceptions are usually a team problem,” Kindbom said. “The offensive line’s protection, the wide receivers’ route running and the quarterback’s throw are all factors. Adjustments need to be made, and hopefully we can figure out the problem.”
The Bears’ defense had trouble stopping the Kohawks’ high-powered offense in the first half, giving up 20 points. However, in the second half, the Red and Green made a few adjustments that kept the Kohawks scoreless and limited them to short drives. Overall, the defense was pleased with its performance, considering that Coe’s offense was averaging 488 yards per game. The Kohawks had 196 yards rushing and 187 yards passing against Wash. U.
“The first half was definitely not that good for us. We struggled a lot and we were inconsistent at times,” said sophomore defensive back Ryan Bednar, who led the team with 10 tackles. “[In] the second half, we played really well, and we felt that we won the battle defensively although we didn’t win the game. We definitely had a bend but didn’t break mentality, which helped us out.”
While the offense had some encouraging moments, including its first quarter 62-yard touchdown drive, the unit was inconsistent for the most part. The Bears’ offense has continued to struggle especially on third down conversions (4 of 14) and with a scarcity of long scoring drives. Aside from the three picks, Burkett completed 14 of his 21 passes for 105 yards; however, the offense, for the most part, couldn’t find the end zone until Daginella stepped on the field in the second half, ending the game with a touchdown drive that at least left the Bears in high spirits.
“This offense has really been tested by some pretty tough defenses so far,” Bednar said. “They’re definitely getting better, and I think as the season continues, they’ll figure things out in the end eventually.”
The Red and Green will try to break their three-game losing streak next week at home, when it takes on Kenyon College at 1 p.m.
“It’s tough to start 0-3,” Bednar said. “But we’ve got to move on and keep looking forward. We still believe in each other, and we’ll be as prepared as possible.”