For a half, the Hillsdale College football team looked primed to win in a stadium it hadn't won in since 1993.
But the Grand Valley State University Lakers had other plans, as shown by its second half.
The Lakers outscored the Chargers 17-0 in the second half and shut down Hillsdale's offense in the final 30 minutes in a 31-21 win at Lubbers Stadium Saturday night. The Chargers are now 4-5 overall and 4-3 in the GLIAC, and play the first of two home games to close out the 2013 season next Saturday against Michigan Tech.
This game was truly a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Chargers were running the ball with power and authority and never trailed, leading the game 21-14 at halftime. Hillsdale rang up 263 yards of total offense in the first half, and pulled off two trick plays to keep control of the game.
However, the Lakers adjusted in the second half and held Hillsdale to just 104 total yards in the second half. GVSU didn't allow Hillsdale to gain a first down in a third quarter that saw the Lakers seize momentum back from the visitors. This was Hillsdale's ninth straight loss at Lubbers Stadium, as the Chargers are winless in Allendale since Oct. 30, 1993.
Hillsdale grabbed a 7-0 lead on the first drive of the game, with senior Isaac Spence polishing off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. The Chargers had three runs of 11 or more yards on the opening drive.
After the Lakers tied it, Wade Wood, who like Spence, returned from injury in this game, took his turn scoring, powering through several Laker defenders from 8 yards away to make it a 14-7 Hillsdale lead on the first play of the second quarter.
The Lakers answered again, tying the game at 14 apiece 2:30 later. On the next drive, the Chargers pulled a couple of trick plays to take the lead for a third time in the half.
Facing a 4th-and-1 from its own 42 yard line, Hillsdale called for its first fake punt play of the season, and doing the honors was senior defensive lineman Nathan Bundy. Bundy rumbled 10 yards for a first down to keep the drive alive.
Two plays later, quarterback Jacob Richter threw a throwback-reverse pass to starting QB Sam Landry for 11 yards for another first down. Landry then finished off the drive himself with a three-yard score to make it a 21-14 game.
Hillsdale's defense came up with a couple of big stops in the second half to keep the game as close as it was. Zach Swaffer snuffed out a fake field goal attempt by the Lakers with 9:52 left in the second quarter. Later on, Steven Embry forced a fumble at the Hillsdale 1-yard line, recovered and returned for 22 yards by junior safety Tim Moinet, dodging another bullet.
But the Lakers controlled the play in the second half anyway, outgaining the Chargers in total yards 336-93. GVSU ran 46 plays in the second half compared to 31 for Hillsdale, and 17 of those 31 plays by the Chargers came on their final drive of the game.
Landry passed for 182 yards and ran for 43 and a score in the game. Spence came back after missing the Saginaw Valley State game due to injury, and led the team with 53 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Wood ran for 17 yards and a touchdown, while redshirt-freshman Jack Wiseman carried the ball six times for 40 yards.
Redshirt-freshman Joe Srebernak led the team in receiving for the third game in a row, hailing in four passes for 44 yards. Tight end Mike Carter caught three passes for 29 yards, while John Haleny had a 35-yard reception for Hillsdale.
Senior linebacker Brett Pasche had nine total tackles, giving him 104 for the season. Pasche became the first Charger player to record more than 100 tackles in a season since Tom Korte did it in 2008. Moinet lked the team with 10 tackles in addition to his 22-yard fumble return. Bryan Siegert and Tyler Jenks teamed up for a sack, while Pasche added 3.5 tackles-for-loss.
Photo by Sheridan Markatos