Elijah Bugg carried the ball for roughly 160 yards Friday and scored one touchdown — but still the Oberlin Phoenix fell 38-14 to the Lutheran West Longhorns.
Where head coach Michael Law said his team found victory was at the line on both sides of the ball.
The Phoenix offensive linemen consistently moved the Longhorns defense to create holes for Bugg to move swiftly up the field.
The Longhorns’ Chris Jones ran in a 32-yard touchdown to score the first points of the game. Minutes later, as he continued to lead the fight up the field, Jones was stopped cold at the endzone and Lutheran West had to settle for three.
Bugg took over, running the ball 48 yards on four carries and taking the Phoenix to the 15 yard line. A botched snap was recovered by Oberlin but all the way back at the 41 yard line, forcing a punt.
Jones immediately caused trouble, breaking through the Phoenix defense and running 90 yards for a touchdown.
Oberlin quarterback David Payne marshalled his offense on the 42-yard line and with Bugg’s legs the Phoenix rapidly moved down the field. Bugg ran in a five-yard touchdown, making it 17-7 with seconds left before halftime.
“I think Elijah Bugg took the heavy load for us and played well,” Law said.
Despite that strong performance, Law said his team needs multiple players to step up to help the Phoenix succeed.
“It’s still us making the mistakes,” the second year head coach said. “When you’re a growing, developing program you can’t make glaring mistakes and expect to win or be in ball games.”
The Longhorns returned a punt for 45 yards and Jones ran in a 17-yard touchdown on the second drive to extend his team’s lead to 24-7.
He went across the goal line a fourth time after the Phoenix risked a fourth down conversion. Lutheran West scored another touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter, making it 39-7.
Oberlin’s offense moved the ball 47 yards down the field for a touchdown before time ran out on the clock to end the game.
Law said his team needs to focus on tackling, blocking, and protecting the ball to improve on the final two games of the season.
The Phoenix will travel to Brooklyn to face the Hurricanes at 7 p.m. Friday.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Oberlin’s Mark Robinson Jr. completes a catch as a Lutheran West defender closes in.