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The Hillsdale College football team (7 – 3) ended the season with a 14 – 3 win over Northwood Uni­versity, securing a four-way tie for the GLIAC North Division title. Saginaw Valley, Michigan Tech, and Grand Valley are the other co-champs.

A standout per­for­mance by senior running back Joe Glen­dening and a very physical defense were instru­mental in the Charger victory, which comes after two weeks of losses to Grand Valley and Michigan Tech.

“I think we played a more physical game against Northwood, which was some­thing we wanted to do after Tech pushed us around a little bit,” Glen­dening said. “The defense stepped up huge all game, which was obvi­ously big for us.”

The Chargers held the Tim­ber­wolves to 92 total rushing yards, while Hillsdale rushed for a net total of 218 yards. Glen­dening rushed for 211 of those yards and scored both Charger touch­downs.

Glen­dening scored on both the first and final drives of the Chargers’s pos­session of the ball.

“We decided to run the football on a critical fourth down on the last touchdown drive and it was a well-blocked, well-exe­cuted play to get the first down and the next play was a touchdown run,” head coach Keith Otterbein said. “It was very fitting for his career that his last carry ended up being a touchdown run.”

The Charger defense stepped up to hold Northwood to a mere three points, after allowing their oppo­nents 42 points in each of the last two games.

“Going into the game, we knew Northwood’s offense wouldn’t be quite as potent as Grand Valley and Tech, but that being said, we focused a lot during the week on really under­standing our assign­ments better and getting everyone to execute their spe­cific role better,” junior line­backer and captain Brett Pasche said.

Coach Otterbein said the team refo­cused on the fun­da­mentals during practice leading up to the Northwood game.

“As you’re looking for the magic formula all of a sudden because it doesn’t come together and click, what you really have to do is take a step back­wards and get back to the fun­da­mentals, making sure we were doing our assign­ments and lining up cor­rectly,” Coach Otterbein said.

A few big defensive stops, including Pasche’s inter­ception in the second quarter and safety Matt Payne’s in the fourth, helped the Chargers keep the momentum in a battle in which Northwood dom­i­nated the passing game.

“The play of the inter­ception was a third down and long and Coach Blan­chard had us in a good cov­erage against the pass,” Pasche said. “Matt and Alex, our two safeties, were deep over the top of every­thing, so I got to hang under the receiver, knowing I had their help. Luckily, the quar­terback didn’t quite get it to the receiver and I was able to pick it off from where I was.”

Senior quar­terback Anthony Mifsud passed for 49 yards in the class of 2013’s last college victory.

“As seniors, we just wanted to make sure we could end it with a win. Hope­fully it gave the other guys some momentum heading into the off­season,” Glen­dening said.

Glen­dening ended a winning season with a winning career indi­vid­ually, as he holds the single-season records for rushing yards, rushing attempts, and rushing touch­downs, as well as career records in rushing yards and total touch­downs. “The numbers are kind of mind-bog­gling when it comes to all he’s accom­plished,” Coach Otterbein said.

However, it’s the team accom­plish­ments that Glen­dening most appre­ciates.

“The biggest accom­plishment for me is just the fact that we’ve had at least a share of the division cham­pi­onship for the past three years,” Glen­dening said. “The GLIAC is a tough con­ference and that accom­plishment speaks volumes about all the great players past and present, as well as how good of a coaching staff we have.”

Otterbein noted that Glen­dening has played most of the season with injuries, which held him back from playing to his full potential.

“For eight games he’s been playing with turf toe and an ankle injury, so finally I asked, ‘What per­centage do you think you were playing at?’ and he thought about it, and said, ‘About 70 – 75 percent,” Otterbein said. “… The superla­tives for what that means for the football team are remarkable, incredible, tough, gritty. Just wow.”

This off­season, Coach Otterbein said the team will work to be even more pre­pared for an extremely dif­ficult GLIAC North Division next fall.

“As I’ve told people and as we’ve talked about all season, in 34 years of coaching, this schedule was men­tally, phys­i­cally, and emo­tionally as taxing as any I can ever remember in my coaching career,” Otterbein said. “Now that we’ve been through it, the second year we kind of know what we’re going to go through.”