August 30, 2012 – One yard short.
The Hillsdale College football team overcame plenty of adversity, but fell just short of a win in its first game of the new season, losing a 30-22 non-league battle with 11th-ranked California (Pa.) Thursday night. The Chargers, ranked 17th in the nation, are now 0-1 and will host GLIAC rival Ohio Dominican at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 at Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium.
After a stop on a fourth-and-1 inside Cal territory, the Chargers took over with a little more than two minutes remaining with an eight-point deficit. Senior QB Anthony Mifsud drove the team all the way down to the Vulcan one-yard-line, but a last-second pass attempt at a potential tying touchdown was batted down by the Cal defense, bringing an end to a classic of a season-opening game.
On that final drive, the Chargers drove 41 yards on 12 plays without the benefit of a time out. Evan Bach caught two passes for 30 yards to get the Chargers moving, while a reception by redshirt-freshman Nick Chapel got Hillsdale down to the Cal five-yard-line. But the Vulcan defense rose, forcing incomplete passes on three of the final four plays of the game to escape with the win.
Mifsud completed 23 of 37 passes for 266 yards and one touchdown in the game. He opened the scoring on the season with a 19-yard scoring run on a fourth-down play in the first quarter.
There was a lot the Chargers did right in this game. Hillsdale converted three fourth-down plays and held the time of possession advantage over the Vulcans. Hillsdale had 439 yards of total offense compared to 397 for Cal. The Chargers also held the advantage in first downs (24-19). But the Chargers were called for nine penalties in the game, and Cal passed for 275 yards while scoring 23 unanswered points in the middle of the contest.
With the game tied 7-7, Mifsud connected with senior RB Joe Glendening on a 44-yard screen pass that set up Hillsdale's second score. Senior H-back Cam White plowed his way in to give the Chargers a 14-7 lead with 2:45 left in the first quarter. Hillsdale scored on each of its first two possessions of the game, and looked in midseason form while doing it. But the Chargers would not score again until late in the fourth quarter.
Glendening, Hillsdale's All-American running back, had 23 carries for 136 yards, his 17th career 100-yard game. He also caught three passes for 56 yards. Brett Miller caught a career-best six passes for 83 yards, while Chapel hauled in three passes in his collegiate debut. White caught six passes for 57 yards to go along with his rushing touchdown. Sophomore tight end Mike Carter caught a five-yard scoring pass from Mifsud in the fourth quarter, and caught the two-point conversion pass to turn the game from 30-14 to 30-22.
Defensively, the linebacker trio of Brett Pasche, Devin Moynihan and Steven Embry combined for 22 tackles, with Pasche's nine leading the way for the Chargers. Sophomore defensive back Daniel Pittman made the biggest tackle of the game, being the first in on the fourth-down play that stopped Cal's drive with two minutes remaining, setting up Hillsdale's last shot at tying the contest.