On a festive homecoming Saturday afternoon filled with parades and performances, the Hillsdale College football team put on the biggest show of the day.
Behind a dominant second-half performance on offense and defense, the Hillsdale Chargers ran over the Michigan Tech Huskies 51 – 24 to improve to 3 – 1 overall and 2 – 1 in the GLIAC.
Sophomore quarterback Chance Stewart completed 19 of his 31 pass attempts for 355 yards and 3 touchdowns. Stewart also ran for 2 touchdowns. As a team, the Chargers gained 546 yards of total offense.
“It was a great team win,” Stewart said. “The big boys up front played their butts off — incredible performance by them by setting the tone. And another great performance too by our wide receiver group.”
Sophomore tailback Joe Reverman carried the ball 22 times for 133 yards and a touchdown. Reverman averaged 6.0 yards per carry.
“The offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage which helped us run the ball well and allowed Chance to have a big game,” Reverman said. “We had a lot of guys step up offensively.”
Stewart missed last week’s game against Tiffin with an injury but showed no signs of rust against the Huskies. Stewart averaged 18.7 yards per completion and ran Hillsdale’s run-pass option offense successfully.
“Chance played well,” head coach Keith Otterbein said. “He shows really good composure on game day where he doesn’t get rattled even if he doesn’t make a throw.”
Michigan Tech’s defense struggled all afternoon to deal with Hillsdale’s run-pass option offense, led by Stewart and Reverman.
“They got a little hesitant and we were able to just capitalize and mix it,” Otterbein said. “If you’ve got both threats going, it’s tough on a defense.”
Reverman opened the game with a 72-yard kickoff return to Michigan Tech’s 23-yard line. Hillsdale’s offense followed with a 3‑and-out but Mette punched in the 36-yard field goal to give the Chargers an early 3 – 0 lead.
The Chargers extended their lead to 10 – 0 with 4:03 remaining in the first quarter on a 12-yard run by sophomore quarterback Chance Stewart. One play earlier, Stewart had connected with sophomore wide receiver Austin Sandusky for a 46-yard gain on third-and-13.
After a one-sided first quarter, both offenses exploded in the second quarter as five straight drives ended in a scoring play.
The Huskies compiled a 14-play, 73-yard drive but couldn’t find the end zone. A 20-yard field goal from Josh King cut Hillsdale’s lead to 10 – 3 with 13:11 left in the second quarter.
The Chargers struck back with a touchdown drive that was nearly identical to their first touchdown drive. Two plays after he completed a 50-yard pass down the right sideline to sophomore wide receiver Trey Brock, Stewart picked up his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon from 11 yards out.
After the Huskies picked up their first touchdown of the game on an 11-play, 75-yard drive, the Chargers responded with a quick touchdown drive again. Sandusky scored on a 53-yard catch-and-run to give the Chargers a 24 – 10 lead late in the first half.
Once again, the Huskies responded a methodical touchdown drive. Williams capped off a 76-yard drive with a 6‑yard rush to cut Hillsdale’s lead to 24 – 17.
The Huskies looked poised to draw level with the Chargers on the opening drive of the second half, but junior defensive lineman Matt Hall picked off a tipped pass to stop Michigan’s Tech drive.
Following the interception, the Chargers added a field goal to extend their lead to 27 – 17.
The Huskies answered with their fourth scoring drive in five possessions, aided by a fake punt. Alex Sherbinow capped off the drive with a 26-yard touchdown reception with 5:06 remaining in the third quarter.
With the lead cut to a field goal, Hillsdale’s defense stepped up and the offense continued to roll. Over the next 13:28 of game time, the Chargers scored 24 unanswered points to blow open a game that looked to be headed for a photo finish.
Reverman scored on a 10-yard rush with 1:24 left in the third quarter. Senior wide receiver Ryan Potrykus hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass at the 13:24 mark of the fourth quarter. Sophomore wide receiver Trey Brock scored on a 27-yard pass from Stewart two minutes later.
Hillsdale’s quick-hitting offense was set up by its defense which forced four turnovers after halftime.
“It was huge for us that our defense forced four turnovers in the second half,” Reverman said.
Hillsdale’s defense struggled to get stops in the second quarter so the Chargers made some changes at halftime.
“We made some good adjustments with the staff to get us in better position to stop some of the runs,” head coach Keith Otterbein said. “They tightened up the coverage a little bit and started to break on the ball, and they just have to have that confidence.”
Next Saturday, the Chargers will play at Wayne State at 6 p.m.
“This win gives tremendous confidence, and the key then is — once you have a game like this — to continue to work hard,” Otterbein said. “We’ve got to get ourselves regrouped and back together to face another tough physical opponent.”