LYNN — The KIPP Academy football team’s offense struggled Saturday afternoon at Manning Field, en route to a 36-12 loss to Roxbury Prep.
The Panthers turned the ball over four times, including one interception, one fumble and two times on downs. The Panthers also had a punt blocked in the second quarter.
“We didn’t put our best foot forward today,” KIPP head coach Jim Rabbitt said. “We made a lot of mistakes early on. We’re still a young team and we have to learn to fight through adversity, come back when we make mistakes and not give the other team more opportunities than they deserve.
“That is a pretty talented team with a lot of speed and if you give them opportunities they’ll take care of business and we didn’t, that was the difference.”
The Panthers did have one solid offensive drive capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run by senior running back Tomi Oladunjoye, but they struggled to put anything else together.
“We haven’t been able to sustain things offensively yet consistently,” Rabbitt said. “We’re still trying to build that consistency. We still have a lot of guys learning different spots but today it was unacceptable as far as our ability to execute when we needed to.”
The Panthers got off to a nice start after their defense forced a fumble on Roxbury Prep’s first drive of the game. Daniel Oluwasuyi was able to scoop up the loose ball and return it for a 50-yard touchdown to put KIPP ahead 6-0.
Later in the first half, a KIPP fumble at its own 31-yard mark put Roxbury Prep in great field position. Roxbury quarterback Jamoni Waller (8-11 for 157 yards, two touchdowns and one interception) found fullback Paul Arlingcove (2 catches for 69 yards and one touchdown) wide open up the seam for a 36-yard touchdown to tie the game at 6-6.
Roxbury Prep again found itself with excellent field position after recovering a blocked punt at the KIPP 17. Waller would later scramble into the endzone on a 6-yard run to put Roxbury ahead 14-6.
Later in the second quarter, Waller found running back Obianigwe Benjamin (140 total yards and two touchdowns) open in the flat for a 24-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 22-6.
KIPP was able to put together a nice drive before the end of the half to cut the deficit to 22-12. The drive was highlighted by a 26-yard catch and run by Taj White-King and a 5-yard touchdown run by Oladunjoye.
Roxbury Prep pulled away in the second half thanks to a 75-yard touchdown run by Benjamin, who broke several Panther tackles on his way to extend the lead to 30-12.
Waller added his third touchdown pass on a 30-yard pass to Ngankam Constatin to go ahead 36-12 and put the game out of reach for the Panthers.
Rabbitt and the Panthers hope to improve in all three phases of the game in preparation for next Saturday afternoon (4) when they host Chelsea in a Commonwealth Athletic Conference tilt at Manning.
“We need to improve our overall toughness,” Rabbitt said. “We missed a lot of tackles today and our conditioning clearly showed. We were bagging out in the second quarter asking for water and Roxbury Prep was ready to go. We have to work on the conditioning and that’s on the coaches to get our team prepared physically and mentally for a game so we have a lot of work to do.
“I’m still hopeful that we an rebound from this. We have a good crew of kids, they do work hard we just have to work harder.”