It was a day for the defense for the Hillsdale College football team Saturday afternoon.
Over the course of forcing four turnovers, the Chargers registered their second shutout victory of the season, defeating Walsh University 38-0 at Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium, putting an emphatic halt to the team's two-game losing streak. Hillsdale is back to the .500 mark for the season at 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the G-MAC.
This win marked the first time the Chargers have recorded two shutout victories in the same season since 1996, which was former head coach Dick Lowry's last at Hillsdale College. The Chargers blanked Kentucky Wesleyan 56-0 back on Sept. 30.
The defense set the tone for this game right off the first offensive drive for Walsh. Jason McDonough picked off a Mitchell Ault pass and returned it 30 yards to set the Chargers up in ideal scoring position. It was the second straight game McDonough, who was recently inserted into the starting lineup, picked off a pass.
Just three plays after McDonough's interception, sophomore tailback David Graham galloped into the end zone from nine yards out to quickly put Hillsdale on top 7-0.
The lead doubled six minutes later when junior quarterback Chance Stewart threw a laser to his favorite target, junior wide receiver Trey Brock, for a 10-yard touchdown strike making it a 14-0 game. The pass culminated a methodical 12-play, 65-yard drive after the defense forced a Walsh three-and-out.
On the third play of Walsh's next drive, Wain Clarke provided the most dramatic play of the day for Hillsdale. He picked off a pass, ran across the field and dove into the end zone for the program's first interception return for touchdown since 2013, making the score 21-0. Clarke did a terrific job of dodging traffic, locating the pylon, and extending himself into the end zone when it appeared he might have gotten tackled short of the goal line.
Tailback Casey O'Brien scored a one-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and Stewart threw a 45-yard rainbow pass to true freshman wide receiver Konnor Malone in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.
Brock caught 4 passes for 57 yards and a score, and tied the G-MAC single-season receptions record, a mark held by Keenan Cole, who now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Graham was effective running the ball, racking up 84 yards on 14 carries for a 6.0 yards-per-rush average. O'Brien had 8 carries for 45 yards for the Chargers. Stewart compleyed 15-of-27 passes for 216 yards and two scores.
Defensively, the Chargers got plays from players all around the lineup. Wyatt Batdorff was a punishing presence from his safety position, making 13 total tackles and 7 solo stops. Linebacker Dan Shanley had 10 total tackles and a sack, while Charlie Yost added a sack. Linebacker Nate Jones had 7 tackles and a tackle-for-loss and Drake Temple also picked up an interception for Hillsdale.
The Charger defense held Walsh to 53 net yards passing in the game despite the Cavaliers possessing the ball for 34:28 of the game. Hillsdale averaged 6.0 yards per play compared to 3.2 for the Cavaliers.