Tight end Martin Petersen stiff arms a defender. Liam Bredberg | Colleigan

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.

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Nathan is a junior at Hillsdale College studying Rhetoric and Public Address and Journalism. He is Sports Editor and beat reporter for the Football, Women's Basketball, and Baseball teams for the Hillsdale Collegian. When he's not watching or writing about sports, Nathan enjoys playing organ and singing. Originally from St. Louis Missouri, Nathan now lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. You can follow Nathan on twitter @nategrime or Hillsdale Collegian Sports at @HDaleSports.