Behind a dom­inant per­for­mance on the ground and a strong second half, the Hillsdale College football team snapped its five-game losing streak with a 38 – 24 win over the Tiffin Dragons on home­coming afternoon at Frank “Muddy” Waters Stadium.
The win bumps the Chargers to 2 – 6 overall on the season and 2 – 5 in the GLIAC with three games remaining.
Two red­shirt freshmen led the charge on Sat­urday. Tailback Joe Reverman carried the ball 38 times for 276 yards — 153 of which were after first contact — and scored two touch­downs. Quar­terback Chance Stewart com­pleted 11 passes for 154 yards and two touch­downs in his third col­le­giate start.
Reverman’s 276 yards were the second-most ever by a Hillsdale player.
“Our offensive line was able to control the line of scrimmage all day and open up big holes for me to run through,” Reverman said. “Our wide receivers made a lot of big plays so that helped keep the defense off balance and made my job a lot easier.”
Due to Reverman’s his­toric per­for­mance, Stewart only threw the ball 17 times.
“The offensive line played tremendous and then Joe just took over that game,” Stewart said. “It made my job a lot easier because they had to respect the run so much that it gave us windows to throw the football.”
Hillsdale’s offensive line helped the Chargers rush for 324 yards as a team, marking the first time in four years that a Hillsdale team racked up 300 or more rushing yards in a game.
“We gelled really well throughout the whole game, and hon­estly we had a lot of fun,” senior left guard Justice Karmie said. “We were fired up, and even when we were down at halftime we were having a good time. So we went out there and we were moti­vated, we were focused, we com­mu­ni­cated well, and we had a really great time playing a good game.”
Head coach Keith Otterbein said the game played out the way he wanted it to.
“We always think it’s important to establish the run game. We did that. Up front they did a nice job of getting guys covered up and moving the line of scrimmage, and Joe ran the ball hard,” Otterbein said. “When we can throw it 17 times in a game, that’s better for us. That’s the kind of football team that we are and so you just hope that games unfold that way.”
The Chargers’ first nine plays of the game ­­— and 18 of their 22 offensive plays in the first quarter — were rushing plays. While the Chargers were unable to convert any of their opening-quarter drives into points, they pos­sessed the ball for 12:44 of the opening 15 minutes, keeping the ball out of the hands of Tiffin’s quar­terback Antonio Pipkin, who fin­ished the game with 302 yards passing and three touch­downs.
Tiffin’s offense got going in the second quarter, as Pipkin com­pleted two touchdown passes to give Tiffin a 14 – 7 lead at the break.
The Dragons received the second-half kickoff, but on the first play from scrimmage Pipkin unleashed a low throw that Hillsdale senior defensive back Todd Frickey inter­cepted, setting up the Chargers with good field position and changing the momentum of the game.
“That was a momentum changer right from the get go,” Stewart said. “Our defense came up with a huge stop and then after that the offense built right off that and dom­i­nated the second half.”
Reverman scored on a 20-yard rush to tie the game after Frickey’s inter­ception. On the first play of Tiffin’s next drive, sophomore line­backer Jay Rose sacked Pipkin and on the play Pipkin hurt his ankle, which affected his mobility for the rest of the game.
“That really helped a lot in terms of what he could do pro­duc­tivity-wise, and then the defense rose up,” Otterbein said. “We also had to make plays. We batted some balls down, we broke up some passes and got to the quar­terback, so overall I’m just really proud of how hard they played.”
The Chargers forced the Dragons into a 3‑and-out on that drive, and Hillsdale scored again to take a 7‑point lead on a 39-yard com­pletion from Stewart to sophomore wide receiver Brian Newman.
Tiffin never pulled closer than a touchdown after that point.
On Sat­urday, the Chargers will face the Saginaw Valley Car­dinals at Harvey Randall Wickes Memorial Stadium. The Car­dinals are 1 – 6 in the GLIAC this season, but Otterbein thinks they are a better team than their record shows.
“They’ve had some unfor­tunate breaks, but I think they’re a good football team,” Otterbein said. “The thing we’re going to emphasize to our team is remember what allowed you to get men­tally, phys­i­cally, and emo­tionally ready for home­coming here. Figure that out and indi­vid­ually each man has got to be accountable to get himself to that level and maintain that level throughout the ball game.”
“We don’t really focus on the record. They’ve played really strong games against some good teams,” Karmie said. “They’re dis­ci­plined and they’re big and strong too so it should be a good game.”