The Hillsdale College Chargers couldn’t keep pace with the No. 15 University of Indianapolis Greyhounds on Saturday, losing 48 – 21 to drop Hillsdale to 0 – 2 to begin the season. The 0 – 2 start to the season is the Chargers’ first since the 2013 year.
The Chargers got on the board first in the opening quarter on a 72-yard scoring drive, punctuated by redshirt freshman quarterback Luke Keller’s two completions to junior wide receiver K.J. Maloney for 57 yards. The second connection on the drive was a 27-yard touchdown reception for Maloney, his first score of the season.
The early 7 – 0 lead was Hillsdale’s only advantage in the game. Indianapolis responded with 20 unanswered points on four consecutive drives, before the Chargers cut the deficit to 20 – 14 by halftime.
With 18 seconds left in the second quarter, Keller connected with redshirt freshman wide receiver Ben Gendics for a 21-yard touchdown. That was the last time the Chargers added to the scoreboard for more than 30 minutes of game time, as the Greyhounds scored the first 28 points of the second half before Keller rushed for a one-yard touchdown in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter to bring the final score to 48 – 21.
“The message is gonna be hit the reset button. The overall expectations of winning a championship are still there,” head coach Keith Otterbein said. “We happened to lose to both of these teams last year too. We need to invest each practice, each rep, mentally, physically, emotionally, to make the kind of improvements that we’re capable of making.”
Keller finished the game completing 15 of 29 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. After throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble in his first career collegiate start in week one, Keller didn’t turn the ball over to the Greyhounds in week two.
Maloney, who exited on the first play of Hillsdale’s week one loss to Michigan Tech because of an injury, caught seven passes for 172 yards and a touchdown against Indianapolis. Keller connected with eight different targets in the air overall.
“I think he’s got a good game day demeanor,” Otterbein said. “ I’m sure as he continues to gain experience he’ll see it slow down for him. He’s not playing like a guy that hasn’t had many college snaps.”
After netting negative-nine yards in the rushing game in week one, the Chargers improved in week two, but gained only 52 yards on 20 attempts. Senior running back David Graham carried the ball 11 times for 38 yards.
“From week one to week two, we did a better job of making the game manageable for a new quarterback, but we’ve gotta establish the run better,” Otterbein said. “Biggest thing we’ve gotta do on offense is establish a solid run game and do a better job on third down.”
Hillsdale converted only four of 12 third down opportunities after going 2‑for-11 on third down last week. Indianapolis converted nearly 50% of its third down chances, and the disparity in third-down conversion rate contributed to a lopsided difference in time of possession.
Indianapolis possessed the ball for more then 37 minutes, compared to the Chargers’ 23. Through two weeks, Hillsdale’s defense has been on the field for nearly two-thirds of its first two games. That disparity played into the Greyhounds’ offense, which racked up 574 total yards of offense — 369 on the ground — as it pulled away in the second half.
“I thought we did a really good job [defensively] in the first half, but having spent as much time on the field as we did, we kind of wore down,” Otterbein said. “You’ve gotta get off the field on third down.”
The Chargers return home on Saturday for the first of two consecutive home games against G‑MAC opponents before continuing its season against two more non-conference opponents. The Lake Erie College Storm visit Frank “Muddy” Waters Stadium first for a 4 p.m. kickoff on Saturday as the college celebrates Homecoming. The Chargers defeated the Storm last season, 41 – 7.
“It all comes down to being the best football team we can be. We need to be better,” Otterbein said. “Our own improvement and how much we invest in practicing hard and committing to the game plan and developing our techniques, our fundamentals. When it comes to game time, there’s gotta be more consistency in execution of those fundamental skills.”
Hillsdale closes out the month on Sept. 28 at home against Walsh University. The Chargers then open October with two more non-conference games before playing their final five games of the regular season against G‑MAC teams.