The Hillsdale College Chargers extended their Homecoming winning streak to four in a decisive 41 – 7 victory over the Lake Erie College Storm. The Chargers improve to 3 – 1 and 2 – 0 in the G-MAC, while the current senior class remains undefeated in Homecoming games.
In the victory, senior wide receiver Trey Brock’s six receptions for 127 yards moved him into first place in school history all-time for receiving yards, passing current Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Holmes ‘11. Brock now has 3,169 career receiving yards with seven games remaining this season.
“It means a lot to me. It shows me that some of my hard work is paying off somewhat,” Brock said. “I credit my coaches for putting me in situations to make plays and I credit [Senior quarterback] Chance [Stewart] and the rest of the offense for doing that as well.”
Brock’s breakout performance comes after a frustrating start to the season. An abdominal injury limited him in the season’s first two games, and he caught just six passes in the first three games combined.
Brock also caught his first touchdown of the year in the fourth quarter with an impressive grab at the goal line.
“He’s one of those kinds of players you just don’t see all the time, and to be able to be here with him for four years and be his quarterback, it’s special,” Stewart said. “I’m really excited for him, and I know he’s got way bigger goals than that, so his expectations are so high that he’s going to keep going and we’re going to keep motoring.”
Stewart continued his strong start to the season, completing 17 of 25 passes for 239 yards. He also carried the ball 11 times for 39 yards and a touchdown.
The Chargers, who put up 54 points against the Storm last season, didn’t even get on the board until late in the first quarter on Saturday, when junior running back David Graham ran for a 15-yard touchdown with five seconds left in the quarter.
After the touchdown, sophomore kicker Joe Philipp executed an onside kick, giving the ball back to Hillsdale’s offense. The Chargers took just two plays to add another touchdown, a five-yard rush by Graham.
Graham’s two rushing touchdowns gave him five for the season, tied for most in the conference. He carried the ball 12 times for 52 yards total against Lake Erie.
Junior running back Christian Shepler also made an impact out of the backfield, carrying the ball five times for 52 yards, including a season-long 42-yard rush on the Chargers’ first scoring drive.
“We’re always looking for room to improve, but I think the rotation is doing really well,” Graham said of the team’s depth at running back. “It’s always a good thing to see more guys being able to contribute.”
Despite the margin of victory, Lake Erie remained competitive through the first half. The Storm moved the ball effectively on multiple drives and dominated the time of possession in the first two quarters.
“I thought we started out a little lackadaisical. We didn’t really start the game as well as we wanted to,” Stewart said. “I didn’t think the offense came out as sharp as we wanted to. But at the end of the day, scoring 41 points, we’ve gotta be happy with it.”
Eventually, Hillsdale’s playmakers proved to be too much for the Storm. Late in the second quarter, with Lake Erie in the red zone, junior defensive back Drake Temple intercepted a pass and returned it 70 yards to set up a field goal for Hillsdale before halftime.
In the second half, sophomore defensive linemen Zach VanValkenburg and Schuyler Snell’s pass rush forced Storm quarterback Javarian Smith to get rid of the ball quicker with less time to find open receivers.
Through four games, Hillsdale’s defense leads the G-MAC in fewest points allowed per game, at 16.2. It limited the Storm to just 32 yards from scrimmage in a dominant second half.
“In the second half, we just tightened down, defense got off the field on third down a little bit, and we punched it in,” head coach Keith Otterbein said. “I felt like we had a good tempo going throughout the game.”
Hillsdale’s final touchdown of the game came on sophomore backup quarterback Ty Cox’s 10 yard scramble in the fourth quarter. Lake Erie’s defensive strategy allowed Hillsdale to execute the read-option scheme successfully throughout the game, according to Stewart. That execution led to a balanced offensive attack: 239 yards through the air and 189 on the ground.
“Guys are excited right now. A lot of things are going good for this football team,” Stewart said. “We just gotta keep going, keep working hard, and a lot of things are falling in place for us right now, so keep staying focused, keep taking it day by day, week by week, and positive things are going to happen for us.”
The Chargers travel to Malone University in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. Hillsdale defeated the Pioneers last season, 45 – 7.
“I think our guys have a little bit of confidence going right now. They feel good about themselves,” Otterbein said. “It won’t be hard to make them practice. They’ll show up ready to practice hard and prepare and be ready to go, and that’s all you can expect. Then you’ve got to go make plays on Saturday.”