ROME, Ga. — In many ways, Berry’s inaugural football season ended much the same way it began.
An exuberant crowd of 3,161 turned out to historic Barron Stadium to cheer on the school’s first team to take to the field. Just like that inaugural contest on September 7, Berry fell short, but walked away knowing they have set a foundation for the future.
Sewanee (3-6) methodically rushed for 255 yards and ground out first down after first down to hold the ball for more than 36 minutes in a 28-6 victory over Berry (1-9). The Vikings moved the ball well all afternoon, but interceptions stymied any momentum and two missed field goals kept Berry from notching points early.
“I’m proud of our guys, the way they fought from beginning to end,” Berry Coach Tony Kunczewski said in an interview following the game. “Hopefully you guys can see improvement from week in and week out. …It’s my hope that those who saw the first game and those who saw the last game saw a marked improvement.”
Berry out-gained Sewanee and collected 369 yards of offense to the visiting Tigers’ 357 yards. Trailing by two touchdowns with less than two minutes to go in the first half, it looked as though the Vikings would pick up their first points, but Sewanee’s Tony Dykes picked off an Adam Sandin pass on the Tigers’ 13 yard line to take a shutout into half time.
After three quarters, Berry trailed by a 14-0 margin, and it looked as if the Vikings might be able to pull within a touchdown. Both teams were chippy all afternoon, but the game took an ugly turn as both teams combined for seven personal foul penalties in the second half.
“That’s not the way they are,” Kunczewski said of Sewanee. “I know that’s not the way they play, and that’s certainly not the way that we’re going to play.”
Despite the penalties, Sewanee tacked on a pair of late touchdowns to put the game out of reach and seal a victory.
Sandin completed 20 of 36 passes for 286 yards and a touchdown. He also threw three interceptions, but connected with Will Chomskis for a ten-yard touchdown as time expired for the Vikings’ first touchdown at home against a varsity opponent. There was no extra point attempt.
In one regard, the game-ending touchdown sends the Vikings into the off season on a positive note.
“We’re looking forward to starting the off season,” Kunczewski said. “We’re looking forward to getting our guys stronger in the weight room. We’re also looking forward to recruiting a second class to fill some of the weak spots that we have this year.”
Berry recruited its initial class with a staff of three, but has a full complement of coaches to recruit its next class.
“The support has been outstanding from the students, from the faculty, staff, from the community around Rome,” Kunczewski said. “I’m hopeful that they all understand that this isn’t going to happen overnight, that they’ll stick with us.”
Sewanee travels to Conway, Ark., next week to take on Hendrix (3-6) in its season finale. Hendrix, which restarted its football program this year, fell to Rhodes (7-2) on Saturday by a 55-36 margin.