Bears rule in 52-7 season opener

| Managing Sports Editor

Tight end Robert Mills charges up the field, shaking off a defender. (Photo by Clara Richards | Student Life)

It took WashU football twelve seconds to take a lead that they never relinquished in their first game of the season.

WashU won the toss, giving Hendrix the ball. A high snap, forced by an aggressive defense, allowed a team safety for a 2-0 lead that the Bears only built on. 

Head coach Aaron Keen said he was happy with the enthusiasm and the passion that his team played with. But more so, he was impressed with the execution of his schemes from his team. “Early on, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of playing your first game, and you play sloppy,” he said. “Today, I felt we played really good football.” 

The Bears went on to beat Hendrix 52-7. They scored seven touchdowns in an aggressive display of offensive prowess, and coupled with smart defensive plays at the line of scrimmage, WashU started their season with a blowout victory.

The team’s success started with quarterback Matt Rush. Rush completed 15 out of his 22 attempts for 215 yards. Last year in his season opener against the University of Chicago, Rush threw two interceptions and three touchdowns. In his second opener, he threw no interceptions and five TDs, and his early lead gave the Bears the security to put backup QBs Clark Stephens and Luke Johnston in the game.

The first touchdown was a spiraling pass to Collin Goldberg, with sophomore Kenvorris Cambell rushing 39 yards to move the ball down the field. The second was an impressive maneuver from freshman Fred Ware. The third was a 36 yard rush by Kenneth Hamilton, the fourth a short pass to Tom Peters. 

And this was before Hendrix managed to get on the board. 

Over the course of the game, the Bears’ offense showed their ability to build off of last year’s success. Junior Collin Hoyhtya and Zach Ginsburg led the Bears’ wide receivers in yardage, and freshman Fred Ware scored his first touchdown of his WashU career. 

After ending the first quarter with a 30-0 lead, Keen was able to get some of his younger, more inexperienced players into the game, including quarterbacks Stephens and Johnston. One of Keen’s challenges at the Division III level is the limitations on practice time in the summer, he said. By substituting players in and out, it gave him another look at possible future contributors. 

“We’re trying to figure out which of these young players can help us at the varsity level,” Keen said. “So I think there’s a lot of guys who played football today that are going to help us down the road.” 

Artrell Miller navigates through a sea of Hendrix players. (Photo by Clara Richards | Student Life)

Coming into last season, the team had experience in the receiving unit but was inexperienced defensively. This year presented the opposite challenge, but the defensive unit outplayed Hendrix all afternoon, with 39 solo tackles. WashU also hogged the possession all afternoon, Hendrix only getting 23 minutes and 18 seconds. 

“I was impressed with the way our defense handled themselves being a little bit more inexperienced,” Keen reflected. “They played some really good football, so their growth is going to be key for us progressing.” 

The team returns for another matchup at home on Saturday, September 17 for their second game of the season against Millikin. WashU is 2-1 against the Big Blue, having taken a commanding 55-13 win in 2021.

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