Taylor football suffered a tough loss Saturday to No. 21 Siena Heights, losing 42-0. The Trojans fell to 2-3 on the season.
Siena Heights, one of the top defensive teams in the NAIA, scored their first touchdown of the game off of a fumble recovery and runback on Taylor’s opening drive. The Trojans coughed up the football on Siena Heights’ 31, ending a promising 11-play drive. That was the only score of the quarter though, as neither teams’ offense could put up points until nearly halfway through the second quarter.
Head coach Ron Korfmacher knew going into the game they had a difficult opponent ahead, but felt the Trojans had a solid start they couldn’t capitalize on.
“We matched up real well with them early,” Korfmacher said. “The first twelve minutes we basically had the football the whole time and were moving it. First drive we had a fumble on their 29 and they took it back for seven. Next time out we moved the ball down the field, just didn’t finish.”
Korfmacher also thought his defense held up well early, despite finding themselves down 7-0 before ever stepping foot on the field. Sophomore defensive back Tyler Watson intercepted Siena Heights with 2 seconds left in the first quarter, holding the game at 7-0.
Taylor’s offense could not capitalize though and had to punt three plays after the Watson interception. Siena Heights then took the ball downfield and scored their first offensive touchdown. They tacked on another right before half to make it 21-0 and did not look back in the second half, adding another 21 points to their tally.
Senior wide receiver Evan Guckenberger, who led the team with four catches on the day, echoed Korfmacher’s thoughts on the offense.
“We came out pretty strong in the first quarter with our first two drives.” Guckenberger said. “We just couldn’t finish our drives. We have to hold onto the football.”
Senior defensive back Jackson Bronkema, who led the team with nine tackles, said one of the defense’s biggest problems was the inability to close out drives with third down stops and stop Siena Heights in the red zone.
While the 42-0 loss hurt, the Trojans seem to have already put that in the past.
“We watch that film (from the game) on Monday,” Korfmacher said. “It has to happen. Evaluate it and correct it. Then you gotta get on to the next opponent. By the time we’re practicing on Tuesday, (the last game is) far back in the rear-view mirror.”
Guckenberger and Bronkema also put emphasis on the team’s ability to look ahead instead of dwelling in a past defeat.
“Have a good week of practice,” Guckenberger said. “As long as we have a positive outlook on our practices and everything we’re doing, we’re good.”
Taylor will now shift their focus to NCAA Division II opponent Lake Erie, who they will face Saturday at Turner Stadium.
Lake Erie, a new opponent for Taylor football, was added to the schedule in July.
“They’re not a common opponent of us or any of our opponents,” Korfmacher said. “We got good film on them though and they have good film on us, but first we have to take care of the ball far better than we did (against Siena Heights).”
The addition to the schedule came after Lindenwood Belleville dropped its football program.
Along with gaining a home game against Lake Erie, Taylor also gained a coach from the situation. First year defensive coordinator Mike Conway joined the Taylor coaching staff after Lindenwood Belleville dropped the program.
In his first few months, Conway has already made an impact on the Taylor defense. The defense ranks 27th of 93 NAIA Division 1 programs in yards allowed, up from 64th last year.
“He’s been a good addition to the staff,” Bronkema said. “He’s got a lot of experience. I feel like our defense is really coming along.”
Taylor will kickoff Saturday afternoon against Lake Erie at 2 p.m. in Upland. The Trojans will hope to rebound from their two-game losing streak and improve to 3-3 on the year.