Game of the year? Win of the year.
The Hillsdale College football team played with pride and guts in securing its biggest regular season win in a long time, 20-17 over the University of Findlay Saturday afternoon in Ohio. The win makes Hillsdale 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
Sophomore kicker Joe Philipp kicked a career-long 51-yard field goal with 90 seconds to go to provide the final margin in the game. The kick was the first 50-plus yarder by any Charger player in 16 years, and was a richly redemptive moment for Philipp, who like any kicker, has had his ups and downs through his career.
But this was a kick he'll never forget.
This win ended a four-game losing streak to the Oilers, and was the Chargers' first win in the series since Nov. 5, 2011.
After Philipp did his part, it was the defense who stepped up to deliver the final deciding play of the game. The Charger defense was superb the entire game, limiting the G-MAC's highest scoring team to just one offensive touchdown all day. Last week, Findlay scored 10 touchdowns in a 70-7 win over Lake Erie, but the Charger defense was up to the task, making two fourth-down stops as a team.
Leading that group effort was the big-time play of Drake Temple.
As has been the defense's custom all year, Temple made his big plays when the team needed them the most. In addition to his 10 total tackles, Temple had an interception and forced a fumble, the latter two plays coming in big moments.
He intercepted a Findlay pass at the Hillsdale four-yard-line in the second quarter, stopping a 10-play drive with the Chargers trailing 10-7. On the subsequent drive, senior quarterback Chance Stewart threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Martin Petersen to give Hillsdale its first lead of the game.
Then on Findlay's final drive, Temple made the game-clinching play. Findlay quarterback Adam Bertke caught a pass on a trick play, stretched out for the goal line, but had the ball knocked away by Temple. The fumble was recovered 8n the end zone by Wyatt Batdorff, resulting in a touch back, allowing the Chargers to gain possession and knee out the clock.
Senior Wyatt Batdorff led the defense with 11 total tackles and seven solo stops, while Temple's eight solo tackles were a team-high. Linebacker Nate Jones had nine total tackles, while five different players registered at least a half-tackle for loss.
Stewart completed 27-of-43 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown. Senior Trey Brock led the receiving corps with 7 catches for 70 yards. Tight end John Brennan had 5 receptions for 39 yards, and sophomore Konnor Maloney had 4 receptions for 43 yards.
Tailback David Graham ran for 69 yards and a score, averaging more than 4 yards per carry in the win.
PHOTO: Courtesy of the University of Findlay