The Hillsdale College football team scored touchdowns off two first-half interceptions, and saw the defense tighten up in the second half of a 28-10 win over Walsh University at Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium Saturday night.
The win makes the Chargers 2-0 for the first time since the 2009 season. Walsh falls to 0-2 overall and in the GLIAC. It was the first-ever meeting between these programs.
Statistically, the game ended up being close to even, but the Chargers were able to capitalize on Cavalier mistakes, and turn them into points.
In the first half, junior Spencer Nehls and redshirt-freshman Wain Clarke each intercepted passes, and Hillsdale was able to convert those opportunities into touchdowns. Nehls picked off a pass on Walsh's second play from scrimmage. On the ensuing possession, sophomore tailback Joe Reverman pounded his way through the defense for a 4-yard touchdown, giving Hillsdale a 7-0 lead.
Clarke's pick came early in the second quarter, and set the Chargers up at Walsh's 20-yard line. Reverman carried the ball three times, then caught a pass from sophomore quarterback Chance Stewart from 5 yards out to break the 7-7 tie.
After a Walsh field goal cut the deficit to four, the Chargers put together a perfect two-minute drive to cap the second quarter. Stewart directed the Hillsdale offense on a 72-yard, nine-play drive that took just 1:41, and resulted in a 9-yard strike from Stewart to senior wide receiver Ryan Potrykus, making it 21-10 shortly before halftime.
Although Walsh was able to generate offense and string first downs together, the Hillsdale defense toughened up in the second half, and did a great job on third and fourth-down plays. Walsh was 1-for-6 on third downs in the second half, and junior Matt Hall made a big-time tackle on fourth down to stop another Cavalier drive.
Hillsdale's only score of the second half came on a gorgeous 32-yard pass from Stewart to Sandusky with 7:02 left in the fourth quarter. Sandusky beat his man on the inside and caught Stewart's pass in stride to put the game out of reach.
Stewart completed 18-of-29 passes for 232 yards and a career-high 3 touchdown passes. Sandusky matched his career-high with 5 catches, totaling a career-high 115 yards and a score, while sophomore Trey Brock hauled in 3 passes for 31 yards.
Reverman again showed strength and toughness in the fourth quarter, keying Hillsdale's ability to finish the game offensively. He ran 25 times for 117 yards and a score.
Defensively, the Chargers shut out the Cavaliers in the second half thanks to excellent ball pursuit by defensive backs Wyatt Batdorff and John Terry. Batdorff led the team in tackles for the first time in his career, totaling 9 with 6 solo stops. Senior Drew Mallery added 9 tackles, while junior Soctty Penola made 7 stops. Charlie Yost made a nice impact from the defensive end position and had a career-best 2 tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble.
UP NEXT: Hillsdale travels to Tiffin to take on the Dragons at 3 p.m. Saturday.
PHOTO CREDIT: Carly Gouge