October 20, 2012 – Last week, the Hillsdale College football team faced the GLIAC's best rushing offense and came out of Ferris State University with a victory. This week, the team was tested by the GLIAC's top passing offense. Test passed again.
The Chargers played an outstanding second half on both sides of the ball and defeated 15th-ranked Saginaw Valley State University 34-17 before more than 1,700 fans at Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium Saturday afternoon. Hillsdale improves to 6-2 overall and its 6-1 GLIAC record gives it sole possession of first place in the ultra-tough GLIAC North Division.
Next week, the Chargers play their home finale against longtime rival Grand Valley State University on homecoming.
This back-and-forth contest was dominated by Hillsdale in the second half, as the Chargers outscored the Cardinals 24-7 and possessed the ball for nearly 12 minutes in the fourth quarter. The defense got big stops on third and fourth down, and did an excellent job of corralling SVSU's productive and big-play passing game.
The turning point in the game came late in the third quarter. Hillsdale stopped the Cardinals deep in their own territory. SVSU was then flagged for two personal foul penalties on the subsequent punt return, giving Hillsdale 30 additional yards of field position. One play later, senior QB Anthony Mifsud lofted a perfect pass to senior H-back Cam White down the left sidelines for a 25-yard touchdown play that gave Hillsdale a 24-17 lead, one it would never relinquish.
Senior placekicker Colin McGreevy had a terrific game kicking, delivering two key field goals for the Chargers at different points in the game. His 36-yard field goal gave Hillsdale a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter. McGreevy then booted a 33-yarder one possession after White's touchdown catch to extend Hillsdale's lead to 27-17. McGreevy's second kick was crucial, because it gave the Chargers a two-score advantage with less than 10 minutes left in the game, thus allowing Hillsdale's defense to zone in on the SVSU offense.
Hillsdale's defense held the GLIAC's best passing attack to 117 yards below its average for the season, limiting the Cardinals to just 195 yards passing in the game. Cornerbacks Daniel Pittman and Ben Karaba each did a great job of open-field tackling, limiting the Cardinals' ability to get yards after the catch.
Junior LB Brett Pasche had a do-it-all game for Hillsdale, with 12 total tackles, one pass break-up, one quarterback hurry, and he blocked an SVSU field goal attempt in the first half that would have given the Cardinals a 13-10 lead at the time.
Linebacker Steven Embry had 11 total tackles, while Pittman led the Chargers with six solo stops and 10 in all. Linebacker Devin Moynihan, last week's GLIAC Defensive Player of the Week, recovered his third fumble in two weeks in an important sequence early in the game. Saginaw Valley State fumbled a punt return, and Moynihan pounced on the loose ball for the recovery at the Cardinals' 12-yard-line. Two plays later, senior RB Joe Glendening produced the first points of the game with a touchdown from 11 yards out.
Glendening powered through a big and physical Cardinal defense for 121 yards on 26 carries, including the first-quarter touchdown where he carried two defenders with him. Sophomore Issac Spence filled the role of "closer" admirably for the Chargers from his running back position, gaining 45 yards on 10 carries including a game-icing touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Mifsud set a career-high for pass completion percentage, going 12-for-14 for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore WR Brett Miller, who celebrated a birthday Friday night, delivered two huge catches for the Chargers, good for 78 yards. White had four receptions for 58 yards and a score, while junior Andrew Mott hauled in a perfectly-thrown and executed 29 yard touchdown pass.
Hillsdale has now defeated Saginaw Valley State in each of the past three years, the first time that's happened since 1991-93.