It was the game of the year so far for the 2013 Hillsdale College football team, and one the Chargers and their fans won't soon forget.
Senior quarterback Sam Landry engineered a seven-play, 77-yard drive that was capped with his fourth touchdown pass of the day to clinch a roller-coaster 45-38 win over visiting Ferris State University Saturday afternoon at Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium.
Hillsdale now sits alone in second place in the GLIAC North Division with a 4-1 record, and is 4-3 overall. The Bulldogs fell to 4-3 and 4-2 with the decision. Hillsdale now hits the road for two straight night games starting next week at Saginaw Valley State.
With 29 seconds left in the game, Landry rolled out and found a wide open Joe Srebernak for a 14-yard touchdown completion that broke up a 38-38 tie. The final score ended up holding up, as Ferris State's explosive offense was unable to get the length of the field in the final 21 seconds of the ballgame.
Landry and Srebernak teamed up for the best games in their respective careers in this one. Landry finished 23-for-40 for a career-high 355 yards and four touchdown passes. He also ran for a touchdown in the victory.
A redshirt freshman wide receiver, Srebernak (pictured) was unstoppable all day long, hauling in a career-high seven catches for 97 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Srebernak was particularly effective as the slot receiver and made a number of tough catches, with tight coverage from the Bulldogs, throughout the game.
Hillsdale was able to withstand one of the GLIAC's most potent weapons in the form of Ferris State sophomore quarterback Jason Vander Laan, who was as good as advertised. He carried the ball 20 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and completed 13-of-23 passes for 167 yards in the game. Vander Laan is a big, strong quarterback who is one of the conference's top rushers.
As a team, Ferris State hit its average of 309 rushing yards per game, but the Charger defense was able to make the one big stop it needed, when the game was tight in the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs kicked a 27-yard field goal to tie the game 38-38 with 4:44 left in the fourth quarter. Hillsdale was sacked for a 10-yard loss on third down on its next possession, but as the Ferris State defense came up with a big play, the Chargers answered.
Junior cornerback Daniel Pittman stopped FSY's Antonio Agurs for no gain on third-and-5, forcing the Bulldogs to punt with 1:42 to go. That set up Landry's expertly guided game-winning drive.
Landry completed four of his six passes on the game-clinching drive, which was assisted by a pass interference penalty on the Bulldogs. Backup tailback Jack Wiseman, forced into the game due to injuries, also came up with a huge play on the drive, a 13-yard run on second-and-2 that got Hillsdale to the 14-yard line. Wiseman's run set up Srebernak's difference-making touchdown reception.
Senior linebacker Brett Pasche blocked a field goal on the final play of the first half that kept the game tied at 21 apiece. The Chargers then took the opening possession of the third quarter all the way down the field, when Landry found John Haley for a short TD pass to put Hillsdale ahead 28-21.
The teams combined for 966 yards of total offense and 56 first downs. This win was the fifth in a row for Hillsdale over Ferris State at home, a streak that stretches back to Sept. 10, 2005.
Tight end Kegan Smith caught four passes for 57 yards. Senior wide receiver Andrew Mott provided a big play for the Chargers with a 69-yard touchdown reception that turned a 35-31 Charger deficit into a 38-35 lead with 8:51 left in the fourth quarter. Haley had three catches for 30 yards and a touchdown, and tight end Mike Carter caught two passes for 12 yards and a score.
Senior linebacker Steven Embry led the defense with 15 total tackles, eight of them solo. Safety Austin Koneval also played big, getting the start and responding with eight solo tackles, 11 in all. Senior linebacker Devin Moynihan had two tackles for loss, and Pasche added 10 total tackles to the win.