Football Team Commemorates Undefeated Season
In celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of their undefeated season, members of the 1972 Kenyon College football team were honored during a halftime presentation at the Lords' homecoming football game against Wabash College on September 28.
As part of the special presentation, Peter Smith, Kenyon's director of athletics, fitness, and recreation, presented members of the team with a plaque that will commemorate one of the best football seasons in the College's history.
The 1972 team, directed by head coach Phil Morse, posted a 7-0-1 record. The seven victories tied the single-season Kenyon record, while the team's winning percentage of .938 remains the College's best. The only blemish on the team's otherwise perfect record was a 13-13 tie with Washington and Jefferson College that occurred in the second game of the season.
Over the course of the eight-game schedule in 1972, Kenyon outscored its opponents 187-69 and maintained the best scoring defense in the Ohio Athletic Conference. The stingy defensive unit also ranked twelfth in the nation among all college division teams.
The memorable season began with a 17-14 win over Otterbein College. The Lords clawed back from a 14-0 deficit and won the game with a fourth-quarter, 35-yard field goal from first-year student Giovanni DiLalla.
The Lords saved some more last-second heroics for their game-two tie with Washington and Jefferson. A 57-yard pass from Dan Handel to Tom Samstag secured the tie in the waning seconds of the contest. That game was followed by a 16-9 win over the College of Wooster and a 21-12 romp over Mount Union College.
At the halfway point of the season, the Lords had a 3-0-1 record and were preparing for their homecoming game against Case Western Reserve University. Kenyon alumni at that game were treated to a blowout as the powerful Lords pitched a convincing 42-0 shutout victory. The high-flying offense continued to put points on the scoreboard in week five as the Lords posted a 34-14 pasting of the Oberlin Yeomen.
After a bye week, Kenyon traveled to Wilmington College, where the Lords needed another DiLalla field goal and a late goal-line stand to pull out a 10-7 win. The season finale against Centre College, however, was not as thrilling. The Lords' defense stood tall one last time as the Purple and White closed out the year by dismantling Centre, 34-0.
Handel finished the season with 1,342 passing yards and a dozen touchdowns, while completing 99-of-183 passes. Tight end Mike Duffy scored six touchdowns and hauled in 35 of Handel's passes. He also finished second in the conference in the pass-receiving race. On the ground, fullback Joe Szmania gained 787 yards on 169 carries. He had eight touchdowns and finished fourth among the OAC's rushing leaders.
In addition to holding teams to an average of just 8.6 points per game, the Kenyon defense racked up 17 fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions during the amazing 1972 season.
Members of the 1972 Kenyon College football team were: Alan Berkowitz, Donald Bernsteel, Daniel Blend, Bruce Broxterman, Patrick Clements, Charles Contrada, William Cooperrider, Alan Crace, Robert Cunningham, Giovanni DiLalla, Michael Duffy, David Fugitt, Michael Gibbons, George Guzauskas, James Gwin, Dennis Hall, Daniel Handel, John Higgins, W. Bruce Isaacs, Mark Leonard, George Betts, Richard Levengood, Kent McDonald, Clinton Merrill, James Mical, John Kevin Moroney, James Musbach, James Myers, Edward Nemer-Kaiser, Thomas Oakley, Mario Orlandi, Mark Rakoczy, G. Frederick Reinhardt, Jerome Retar, Patrick Riley, Richard Salomon, Thomas Samstag, Peter Schneeberger, Francis Snow, Joseph Szmania, Peter Truex, David Utlak, Matthew Valencic, John Vrtachnik, Stanley Vrtachnik, Patrick White, James Yackee and Alexander Young. Coaches: Head coach Phil Morse, Tom Frazier, Bill Heiser, Tom McHugh, Dick Sloan and Don White. Trainers: George Christman and Dick Traucht. Student Managers: Jeffery Bennett and Robert Yaekle.
Do you have feedback on this page?