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Football vs. Wayne-31

The start of their season couldn’t have gone much worse, but the end couldn’t have gone any better.
The Hillsdale College football team overcame the Wayne State War­riors 31 – 24 in overtime on Sat­urday to send its seniors off on a four-game winning streak.
“That was a sto­rybook ending,” head coach Keith Otterbein said. “There comes a time when a team just says, ‘We’re not losing, we’re not going to let this go,’ and we just made enough plays on both sides of the ball.”
After red­shirt freshman tailback Joe Reverman put Hillsdale ahead in overtime with a 9‑yard touchdown run, senior defensive back Todd Frickey picked off a pass in the end zone on Wayne State’s ensuing pos­session to seal the victory for the Chargers.
“That was def­i­nitely a moment I will never forget, but my team­mates deserve a lot of the credit for that as well,” Frickey said. “The win was big for both our seniors and for the team as a whole.”
Before scoring on Hillsdale’s final offensive pos­session, Reverman opened the scoring on the second play from scrimmage, running 62 yards untouched into the end zone to give the Chargers an early 7 – 0 lead.
“Joe said that’s the biggest hole he’s ever run through and that made us feel pretty good on the offensive line,” senior left guard Justice Karmie said.
On the Chargers’ next pos­session, red­shirt freshman quar­terback Chance Stewart threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Trey Brock, dou­bling Hillsdale’s advantage to 14 – 0 less than nine minutes into the game.
“Chance throws a really nice deep ball,” Otterbein said. “As you gain more con­fi­dence as a football team and more con­fi­dence as an offense you can take some of those shots.”
But the War­riors fought their way back into the game. A Romello Brown two-yard rush gave Wayne State a 17 – 14 lead heading into halftime.
“Even after we were up 14 – 0 early we knew it was going to be a battle,” Karmie said. “Coach always says you’ve got to weather the storm.”
Brown’s third touchdown of the game gave the War­riors a 24 – 17 lead with 7:41 left in the fourth quarter, but Stewart con­nected with junior tight end Joe Sre­bernak for a 16-yard touchdown with 1:21 left in the game to force overtime.
“We had to really work hard to get it to overtime,” Otterbein said.
After he sealed the win with his inter­ception, Frickey was mobbed by stu­dents and his team­mates on the field.
The Chargers started the season 1 – 6 and suf­fered through a five-game losing streak, but were able to turn their season around, winning their final four games to finish 5 – 6.
“There came a time where we had to decide whether we wanted to stay the course and keep working hard or limp through the rest of the season,” Frickey said. “We had a lot of great senior leaders on this team who refused to lose, which lead to a turn­around in our season. Our win Sat­urday was the cul­mi­nation of our team’s con­tinued hard work and ded­i­cation.”
After fin­ishing the season with 1,083 rushing yards and 10 touch­downs, Reverman was voted team MVP by his team­mates. On Tuesday, Reverman was named GLIAC Freshman of the Year and Second-Team All-GLIAC.
“I know we have so many other great players on the team and for them to be able to rec­ognize me as the MVP is pretty hum­bling,” Reverman said. “I didn’t nec­es­sarily feel deserving because our offensive line was so good this year, but it meant a lot.”
Saturday’s win was just as important for the team’s younger players as it was for the seniors.
“The momentum is huge,” Otterbein said. “We ended on a four-game winning streak, and every­thing is upbeat and pos­itive.”
Even with plenty of momentum heading into next season, Otterbein is looking for his players to con­tinue to improve over the off­season.
“The reality is we’re going to have to have a bunch of guys really develop and step up and replace some guys that have played a lot of football,” Otterbein said. “We’ve got guys but they’ve got to develop first and foremost over the winter and get bigger, stronger, and faster.”
Otterbein’s players realize that.
“If each person gets better then our team can get better as a whole,” Reverman said. “I’m sure everyone wants to do that.”
The Chargers will con­tinue to lift over the next few months but won’t hold orga­nized prac­tices until after spring break when spring practice begins.
Hillsdale played 11 games this season, but as of right now the Chargers have just 10 games scheduled for next season. Otterbein said there’s a “50 – 50” chance they’ll add an eleventh game in the middle of the season, which is where their current bye week would be.
“Because of people coming and going in the new league, those are really tough to fill,” Otterbein said.
The Chargers have six home games scheduled for next season, and matchups against Michigan Tech, Grand Valley, and Ferris State.