If you were on campus a couple weeks before classes started, you’d see what appeared to be hundreds of football players in the dining halls, dorms, and on the field. Turns out that estimation is actually accurate. With 48 new first-year players joining the University’s football program, the team surpassed 100 players in Head Coach Chad Martinovich’s revamped team.
The men’s football team opened up against Case Western Reserve University on a Saturday afternoon filled with fascinated first-years and skeptical seniors. The team, a deep sea of blue and yellow on the sidelines, clearly outnumbered their opponents. Despite the strong bench presence, the Yellowjackets did not start the game in an intimidating manner.
With an attendance of over 3,000, the stadium was buzzing for the start of the season however, the team did not match this energy. Case Western received the kickoff and systematically marched down the field with a variety of runs and passes including a 39 yard catch. The series was capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run. This however, was only the beginning of the Yellowjackets’ sorrows.
The series went from bad to worse for the home team. A three and out series ended with a blocked punt by Case Western that was returned for a defensive touchdown. The blocking on the drive was non-existent and the UR offense looked lackadaisical. Case Western received the ball once again in the first quarter after another three and out series by the Yellowjackets. In the same determined and surgical manner, Case Western cruised 70 yards down the field to make the score 21–0.
The Yellowjackets continued to struggle into the second quarter as Case Western scored again making the score 28–0. Failed interceptions and missed tackles plagued the Yellowjackets’ defence. A promising drive led by sophomore quarterback Steven Genova using a mix of quarterback scrambles and nicely-timed slant routes led the Yellowjackets to Case Western’s one yard line. Unfortunately, this would be the end of the drive as the Yellowjackets failed to convert four straight goal line rushing attempts, resulting in a turnover on downs as the clock wound down.
A pair of field goals, one for each team, brought the score to 31–3 in the third quarter. The rest of the quarter was a stalemate as neither team could come close to the opposing team’s end zone. Another Yellowjackets field goal and a final Case Western touchdown in the fourth quarter to bring the final score to 37–6.
While this was not the result that Coach Martinovich and the Yellowjackets were looking for, there are promising signs of what’s to come. For the three transfers and 48 first-year players, the nerves of their first game are gone. Fauver Stadium, unlike most of last year, was decently full with a total of 3,131 attendees, the most for football since 2008. The atmosphere felt different, no longer a feeling of despair surrounding the team, but a sense of excitement and anticipation for the future.
The team’s next game will be away at Endicott College, but the first league game will occur on October 5 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It remains to be seen what will become of the season as the Yellowjackets as try to improve on a one-win season last year.