Freshmen Fuel Football Win

Rayford, Espinosa rewriting Bishop record books

Jermar Rayford ’14 dives toward the end zone against Kenyon. (Photo by James Farrell)

The Ohio Wesleyan football team celebrated its first win of the season last weekend, a 30-14 verdict over Kenyon at Selby Field.

With two games left in the regular season, head coach Mike Hollway says the team is already looking forward to next year.

A strong freshman class made its debut this year. Hollway said as many as 11 started at some point this season.

“It takes time for players to learn about each other as well as new strategies and techniques entering into a new program,” he says.

Two standouts this year are Mason Espinosa and Jermar Rayford ’14.

At the game against Allegheny, Rayford, a fullback, set a school record with 16 receptions, breaking the mark of 13 set in 1967. This was one short of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) single-game record.

Last Saturday, quarterback Espinosa completed 21 of 33 passes for 219 yards and 2 scores. At Allegheny, he completed 38 of 59 passes for 406 yards and 2 touchdowns. The 406 yards passing is the third-highest single-game figure in school history, while the 38 completions and 59 attempts both rank second all-time. Espinosa’s 61 total plays and 422 yards total offense also rank second on the Bishop single-game list. Espinosa’s total of 625 yards passing in the last 2 weeks is more than OWU’s leading passer had for the entire season in both 2008 and 2009.

“Mason is an outstanding talent,” Hollway says. “More importantly, his work ethic has raised his game above what anyone could expect from a first-year player.

“Jermar possesses unique athletic talents. He is lightning-quick and has terrific instincts in the open field as a ball carrier and receiver. Jermar has the ability to convert any play into a big play.”

Rayford says that off the field, he and Espinosa are close friends. He says the win last weekend was much needed.

“We were partying in the locker room,” he says.

Rayford says the team needs to learn to work together and play on each others’ strengths and weaknesses.

“We haven’t been on one accord,” he says. “People aren’t adjusted to the new environment.”

Though he said some other freshmen have felt a little nervous, he doesn’t feel the pressure of being a freshman starter.

Rayford and Hollway both predict next season will be good with the young talent leading the team.

“We hope to continue our development and improvement through the remainder of the season,” Hollway says. “OWU has a terrific group of freshmen on which to build a successful future.”

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