ANDERSON, Ind. — The scene was set Saturday for Anderson University to win its first football game under the direction of coach Bobby Ladner. But Earlham College spoiled the Ravens’ homecoming with a second half rally to steal a 21-20 decision at Macholtz Stadium.
Former alumni and players, the king and queen court and newly inducted Anderson Hall of Fame athletes were on hand to cheer their team to victory, and through the first half it looked like it was finally going to happen.
The Ravens (0-7, 0-5 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference) took the opening kickoff on a five-play drive that spanned 57 yards and culminated in a touchdown strike from Chandler Farrow to Dev Thompson for 4 yards and a 6-0 lead after a missed extra-point.
The Ravens' next drive took a little longer, but the result was the same. It went nine plays for 65 yards and ended with an Edward Pupoh 1-yard scamper. This time the point after was good, and Anderson led 13-0 with 8:10 left in the first quarter.
The Quakers (2-5, 1-4 HCAC) couldn’t seem to answer the mystery of how to stop their conference foe, and Anderson scored again on a Farrow to Keith Thomas strike to take a 20-0 lead into the half.
Complacency and dropped passes got the best of the Ravens in the second half. Earlham got a touchdown catch and run in the third quarter to make things interesting before Jalen Kenner made a 39-yard over the shoulder catch with 8:45 to play in the game for the decisive score.
“A little bit of complacency, thinking we had it won,” said Ladner of the first and second half differences. “Coaches and the seniors, we pushed to not be complacent, and as the game went on things started happening, and it ended up what the score was. So I think we let up a little bit, and we shouldn’t have.”
Ladner said the setback is just one more step toward the ultimate goal of rebuilding AU into a winner.
“I’m not frustrated, frustrated is the wrong word,” he said. “We’re rebuilding this program. Everyone in the country knows that. That’s not anything new. There’s no frustration, there’s disappointment that we lost — that might be a better word — but not frustrating. Because we’re going to keep working, and we’re going to change this program around. Not only for the alumni but for our football players and our coaches. We’re going to continue to work, and that’s what it is.”
Ladner said the Ravens aren't far away from that long-awaited victory.
“We’re getting close, we’re very close,” he said. “We like our team, we like our recruits. And the guys that are in here and working hard for us, they want to win just as bad as the coaches and the fans, and I know it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time.”
For the first time all season, Ladner was able to go with one quarterback through the whole game. Farrow went 26-of-53 for 287 yards with two scores and no picks. Thomas and Thompson each had seven grabs for 89 and 57 yards, respectively, each with a touchdown reception.
The Quakers got a huge performance from linebacker Kaleb Lingg, who finished the game with 24 tackles, six tackles for a loss and a sack. He also punted for a 41.8-yard average and took four punt returns for 25 yards.