Don't let the final score of Saturday's football game fool you. This one was all Hillsdale College.
The Chargers mixed in big plays on offense with more ballhawking by the defense in a 45-24 win over Alderson Broaddus University at Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium. The win enables the Chargers to maintain hold on a share of first place in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference at 5-0, while the Battlers fell to 2-5 on the season.
Hillsdale is 6-1 overall for the first time since 2010.
The Chargers wasted little time in grabbing control of the game, exploding for a season-best 21 points in the first quarter. Junior tailback David Graham scooted nearly untouched into the end zone from 10 yards out to make it a 7-0 lead with 5:02 left in the first quarter.
Over the next 2:32, Hillsdale would triple that lead thanks to some clever play calling and big plays from its best players.
Out of the 29 career touchdown catches Trey Brock has caught in his career, his first of this game stands out as one of the most unusual. He caught a long pass along the home sidelines from Chance Stewart, only to have the ball poked from his possession by a Battler defender, who dove to force the fumble. But the ball bounced in a direction straight ahead of the sprinting Brock, who non-chalantly caught it on a dead run and galloped untouched into the end zone for an 80-yard scoring play.
Brock, who holds the school's all-time record for touchdown receptions, later caught a four-yard strike from Stewart in the second quarter.
After a perfectly executed onsides kick by Joe Philipp, Graham rumbled 52 yards on the first play of the next possession to give the Chargers their third touchdown in less than three minutes. It was the longest touchdown run of Graham's career, and made it 21-0 Hillsdale with 2:20 to go in the first quarter.
Senior tight end John Brennan caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Stewart less than five minutes into the second quarter. Add to that, Brock's second touchdown reception of the game, and the margin stood at 35-0 Hillsdale with under six minutes to play in the first half.
The Chargers played backups on both offense and defense throughout most of the second half. The Battlers scored 21 fourth-quarter points, six coming on an 89-yard kickoff return, to help make the final score closer than what it might have been otherwise,
Hillsdale's lone touchdown of the second half was a highlight-reel play. Senior wide receiver Alex Zimmerman caught a pass from quarterback Ty Cox and sprinted 78 yards downfield for the Chargers' final score of the game. It was a play that Zimmerman, a fifth-year senior, is likely to never forget, outrunning the Battler defense with nothing but green turf in front of him the whole way.
The Charger defense played better than its 24 points allow would indicate, picking off three more passes in this game. Interceptions by Jason McDonough, Drake Temple and Tommy Froman - Froman's being his first career pick - helped the G-MAC's top intercepting secondary on top of its game.
Jay Rose and Wyatt Batdorff each had 8 total tackles for Hillsdale. Batdorff recovered a fumble while Dan Shanley and Zach VanValkenburg each forced fumbles in the win. McDonough broke up two passes, while Shanley, Derek Branyan, Merrick Canada and Carter Wilson were each in on pass break-ups.
Stewart, in limited duty, was 16-for-28 for 256 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cox threw for 90 yards and a score in a backup role.
Brock kept adding to his existing school record for career receiving yards with 157 more in this game, on just 6 receptions, for two touchdowns. Sophomore Konnor Maloney has four catches for 54 yards. In all, 10 different Chargers caught passes in this game.
PHOTO: Todd Lancaster