Paylor, Kinnick defense too much for Zama
Nile C. Kinnick scored at a robust pace last season, leading the Pacific with 308 points in 11 games. However, the Red Devils also led the region in points allowed, with 306 – something coach Dan Joley said he’d hoped to address this season.
Friday’s season-opening 30-0 win at Zama may have offered an indication, Joley said. The Red Devils’ defense recorded nine sacks, 17 tackles for losses and allowed the Trojans a net total of just eight yards of offense.
“Our defense was phenomenal. They were dynamite,” Joley said. “I’m pleased with our defense. It won the game for us.”
Leading the defensive charge was Bryce Cherrstron, who had four sacks among his eight tackles. Chris Morris added three sacks and Justin Thompson had two.
On the other side of the ball, Dre Paylor rushed 22 times for 265 yards, including touchdown runs of 1, 27 and 19 yards; he became just the second back in Pacific history to gain more than 2,000 yards last season. Paylor also had an interception on defense.
Kyle O’Brien started at quarterback and had a rushing TD. He was 4-for-8 for 62 yards for a Kinnick team that finished with 428 total offensive yards. The Red Devils got a safety when Zama sent a punt snap out of the back of the end zone.
It was a game that was much closer throughout than the final score indicated. Kinnick held just a 10-0 lead well into the third quarter before pulling away at the end.
Hurting Kinnick were three first-half fumbles, two inside the Zama 20-yard line. But every time the Red Devils coughed up the ball, “the defense responded,” Joley said, adding that the game was played in Zama territory much of the way.
“We kind of came unraveled at the end,” said Zama coach Steven Merrell, adding that the score “didn’t indicate how we were in the game.” A bright spot for Zama was Justin Brown, who rushed eight times for 63 yards, including a 52-yard scamper.
“We were in the game for most of it. There are some positives we can take from it. This gives us something to build on for the future.”
Zama has a bye next week, while Kubasaki visits Kinnick on Sept. 13.