September 7, 2013 - For the first time in six years, the Hillsdale College football team lost its home opener.
On a hot, sticky night at Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium, a 48-yard field goal attempt just missed with all zeroes on the clock, sending the Chargers to a 22-19 defeat to California (Pa.) Saturday night. Hillsdale, 0-1 on the season, travels to Columbus, Ohio next weekend for its GLIAC opener against Ohio Dominican.
The game came down to the Vulcans' ability to take advantage of their chances, particularly in the second half, when they rallied from a 13-0 deficit. That led to a wild fourth quarter that featured three lead changes and dramatic plays by both teams.
California (1-0) drove 80 yards in 2:19 to re-take the lead with 56 seconds to play. The Vulcans converted a key two-point conversion to make it a three-point game.
Senior quarterback Sam Landry, who had an outstanding first collegiate start, drove the team 40 yards inside of the final minute to put the Chargers in position to tie the game. But Steven Mette's 48-yard attempt, certainly a challenging one at any level of football, barely sailed wide left.
The loss spoiled a terrific game by Landry, who completed 26-of-42 passes for 359 yards and one touchdown. It was the most passing yards by any Hillsdale College player since 2010, and most by any quarterback in his collegiate debut under current head coach Keith Otterbein. Landry showed an ability to complete the deep ball, completing eight passes of 14 or more yards.
He also spread the ball around in impressive fashion, completing passes to eight different receivers, three of which caught five or more passes. Senior Evan Sassack stepped up with a career-high seven receptions for 61 yards, while senior Andrew Mott and junior Evan Bach each hauled in five passes.
Defensively, Hillsdale shut out California in the first half, but Vulcan passer Cody Schroeder did an excellent job of completing short passes throughout the second half. In the first half, Hillsdale ran 12 more plays than the Vulcans, and had a big edge in time of possession. But in the second half, California ran 40 plays, with three drives of at least nine plays each. Schroeder went 26-for-37 for 270 yards in the contest.
Mette connected on two first-half field goals, and Bach caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Landry to give Hillsdale a 13-0 lead at halftime.
The Charger defense got interceptions from junior Daniel Pittman and senior Matt Payne, and senior Skyler Davis recovered a fumble on the game's opening drive. Hillsdale won the turnover battle 3-0, had three more first downs and had 143 more yards of total offense. But Hillsdale hurt itself with four missed field goals, two of them blocked by the Vulcans.
Redshirt-freshman running back Bennett Lewis rushed for 52 yards in his collegiate debut, and senior Isaac Spence rumbled for 43 yards on the ground, including a touchdown in the fourth quarter that put Hillsdale ahead 19-14.
The senior linebacking trio of Brett Pasche, Steven Embry and Devin Moynihan were the team's three leading tacklers, with Pasche pacing the team with 10, including two tackles for loss. Bryan Siegert had a sack, and Nathan Bundy and Davis each teamed up for a sack.