Halloween is known for handing things out. The Charger defense was not in a giving mood Saturday night.
That unit played by far its best game of the season in giving Hillsdale its first road shutout win in nearly four years, 26-0 over Saginaw Valley State, the Chargers' second win in a row. Hillsdale is now 3-6 overall and 3-5 in the GLIAC while SVSU falls to 1-8 on the season.
The tone was set by the defense early on a rainy, windy night in University Center, as it forced five straight three-and-outs by the Cardinal offense to open the game. Saginaw Valley State's most productive drive came late in the second quarter when it picked up three straight first downs. However, that drive was stopped when sophomore linebacker Jay Rose (pictured) recovered a fumble forced by senior David Galginaitis.
The numbers posted by the defense were nothing short of impressive. The Cardinals were held to six total first downs in the game, one of them coming via penalty. SVSU generated just 105 yards of total offense, 56 rushing and 49 passing. SVSU averaged a miniscule 2.2 yards per play and held the ball for just 24:01 of the game, nearly a 12-minute disadvantage. The Cardinals were just 1-for-11 on third downs.
Seven different Chargers had 5 or more total tackles, led by 8 apiece by Drew Mallery and Scotty Penola. Rose and Austin Koneval had 6 each, while Galginaitis, Roger Stewart and Kyle Johnson each had 5. Key among that list of names were the appearance of three defensive linemen – Mallery, Galginaitis and Stewart – which meant the defensive line was getting a strong and consistent push into the Cardinal backfield.
The defense racked up 5 tackles for loss while Stewart had a sack on fourth down that clinched the shutout for the Chargers.
Field position was another big factor in the game. Thanks to the defense's good start, the Chargers had a huge edge in field position throughout the first half. In the game, Hillsdale's average starting field position was its own 42-yard line, while SVSU's average starting field position was its own 21.
On the other side of the ball, the sterling performance put up last week by tailback Joe Reverman and the offensive line carried over into this game.
Reverman ran the ball 36 times for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns in the victory. He became the second Charger in school history to run for more than 200 yards in back-to-back games, joining Joe Glendening, who did it Oct. 1 and Oct. 8, 2011. Reverman's 500 combined rushing yards in two games is also second-most in school history, behind the 502 Glendening gained in those same two aforementioned games.
With the rain and wind effectively shutting down Hillsdale's passing attack, the burden shifted to Reverman and junior Jack Wiseman, who along with the offensive line, were able to gain first downs and control the clock throughout the contest. Reverman didn't fumble the ball on this rainy night, and lost just two yards on his 36 carries.
Wiseman scored a touchdown for the second straight week, and had 32 yards on 9 carries. Quarterback Chance Stewart ran for 16 yards, including a key 5-yard run on a fourth down in the second half.
Junior kicker Steven Mette drilled field goals of 29 and 38 yards, and he had a punt that pinned the Cardinals at their own 2-yard-line in the second quarter.
NOTABLE: This was the first time Hillsdale has ever shut out Saginaw Valley State in 37 all-time meetings, dating back to 1975…With the win, the Chargers now lead the all-time series with the Cardinals 19-18 and have won five of the past six meetings between the teams…The last time Hillsdale played on Halloween, it defeated Ferris State 59-14 in Big Rapids…This was Hillsdale's first road shutout since a 42-0 win at Tiffin on Nov. 11, 2011, a win that clinched the outright GLIAC championship for the Chargers.
PHOTO CREDIT: Anders Kiledal