October 13, 2012 – Experience can be the best teacher, even if it's a lesson that doesn't have to be taught very often.
The Hillsdale College football team hasn't lost very often in recent years – just nine in the last three full calendar years. But when it does, it knows how to respond. That was on full display on a soggy Saturday in Big Rapids.
Thanks to three forced turnovers and a stout effort on defense, the Chargers won after a regular season loss for the 21st straight time, 30-20, over Ferris State University on the Bulldogs' homecoming game. Hillsdale improves to 5-2 overall and 5-1 in the GLIAC with the win, and will host fellow North Division leader Saginaw Valley State next Saturday.
Hillsdale learned plenty of things from its frustrating 24-21 loss at Wayne State on Oct. 6, and applied them well in this game. Despite rainy conditions, the Chargers made sure they were on the positive side of the turnover battle, and took advantage of all the chances they got to climb back into the conference title picture.
The Chargers scored on their opening drive, on a six-yard QB keeper by Anthony Mifsud to give the team a 7-0 lead. Ben Karaba then intercepted a pass on Ferris State's opening drive and returned it to the Bulldog 25-yard line. Five plays later, senior RB Joe Glendening found the end zone to give Hillsdale a 14-0 lead just six minutes into the game.
Ferris State entered this contest with the GLIAC's number one-ranked offense in terms of average yards per game. The Bulldogs showed how tough they can be with the ground game, scoring 20 unanswered points to take a 20-14 lead early in the third quarter. But that's when Hillsdale's number-one ranked defense took control of the game.
Junior LB Brett Pasche blocked a Ferris State field goal, while fellow junior Devin Moynihan had one of his finest days as a Charger, with a team-high 12 tackles and two fumble recoveries. His second killed a Bulldog drive that went down to the Hillsdale 31-yard-line with less than five minutes remaining. The Bulldogs never got the ball back.
Hillsdale converted two crucial third downs inside the final four minutes to clinch the victory.
Mifsud returned to his efficient passing ways, completing 16 of 22 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown pass. Sophomore TE Mike Carter was on the receiving end of the scoring pass, a play which gave the Chargers the lead for good, 21-20.
Glendening ran for 171 yards on 36 carries, his second-highest yardage total of the season, and two touchdowns. His longest gain of the day was 17 yards, which indicates his ability to grind out yardage throughout the ballgame. He now has 4,209 career rushing yards, leaving him just 287 shy of the career school record.
Hillsdale outgained Ferris State 419-351 and held a nearly 10-minute edge in time of possession in the ballgame.
The Charger defense answered the bell in this game, holding Ferris State to 130 yards below its season average in rushing yards (204). Hillsdale had five tackles for loss as a team, led by two from defensive end Joe Snyder. Daniel Pittman had eight tackles and a forced fumble, while Nick Galvan and Steven Embry had eight tackles apiece for the Chargers.