Sometimes, the storybook endings come true.
Senior defensive back Todd Frickey, a rare fourth-year senior on the Hillsdale College football team, who has battled injuries and concussions throughout his career, intercepted a Wayne State pass to end overtime and give the Chargers a dramatic 31-24 overtime win over the visiting Warriors on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium.
The win, Hillsdale's fourth in a row, allows the team to finish the 2015 season with a 5-6 overall record, and 5-5 in the GLIAC.
The fairly tale interception was set up after redshirt-freshman quarterback Chance Stewart directed the team on a game-tying touchdown drive, covering 51 yards on seven plays in just 76 seconds. Down 24-17, Stewart found junior Joe Srebernak on a well-thrown crossing route from 16 yards out to tie the game up at 24 with 1:21 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Charger defense, which stood tall throughout the second half, stopped the Warriors on their final drive of regulation, capped by a Jay Rose sack of WSU freshman quarterback D.J. Zezula.
Wayne State won the overtime coin toss, but chose to play defense first. That put the pressure on the Charger offense, pressure that this young unit impressive answered.
Redshirt-freshman tailback Joe Reverman, led by an inspired offensive line, needed just four plays to run for the 25 needed yards to put Hillsdale ahead 31-24 on overtime's first possession. His runs covered 8, 6, 2 and 9 yards, the last coming on a rush off the left side where he found enough open space to use his speed to get away from the Wayne State defenders.
That set up the ending, which on Senior Day, was only fitting that Frickey would be the one to send the Charger sideline and fans into a wild season-ending celebration.
Reverman, who didn't start a game in the first half of the season, churned out 196 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns. He finished the season rushing for 1,083 yards, averaging exactly 6 yards per carry. His tough, tenacious running helped redefine the Charger offense midway through the season.
Stewart provided another dimension to the much-improved offense in the second half of the season, and he was on target in this game. He completed 18-of-28 passes for 254 yards and 2 touchdowns. He had another high yards-per-completion average in the win (14.1) and found fellow freshman Trey Brock for a 44-yard touchdown pass in the first half.
Brock led the team with 4 receptions for 98 yards, while senior John Haley, playing his final game, hauled in 3 passes for 23 yards.
Wayne State came into the game on a four-game winning streak, averaging 38 points per game in those four. The Charger defense was up to the task, holding the Warriors to 14 points below that average, while limiting WSU to just 3-for-13 on third-down conversions.
Hillsdale outgained Wayne State 458-353, and held the ball for more than 11 minutes of the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Spencer Nehls had an interception to go along with 9 total tackles for the Chargers. Rose led the way with 14 total tackles, while senior defensive lineman Roger Stewart was a wrecking ball with 11 total tackles. The defense accounted for 10 tackles-for-loss, a season-high, with Drew Mallery getting 2.5 of those. Junior captain Joe Duff returned to the field for the first time since week one and had 9 total tackles.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE: This was Hillsdale's first overtime win since a 40-34 win over Ashland in 2011, and first overtime game overall since 2013…Senior offensive linemen Justice Karmie and Aaron Price started their final games for the Chargers, but the other three starters on that unit all just completed their sophomore seasons…Hillsdale has lost at home to Wayne State just once in the past 18 seasons…Eight different players caught passes in the game for the Chargers…This is Hillsdale's first four-game winning streak since 2012.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Klopfer