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Luke Keller looks to pass in a game earlier this season. Keller com­pleted 12 of 28 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown in Sat­ur­day’s win against Walsh. courtesy | camryn olson

The Hillsdale College Chargers evened their record to 2 – 2 this season on Sat­urday with a com­manding 30 – 0 shutout against the Walsh Uni­versity Cav­a­liers at Frank “Muddy” Waters Stadium. The win also puts Hillsdale at 2 – 0 in the G‑MAC. Only Tiffin Uni­versity (3 – 1, 2 – 0) is also unbeaten against con­ference oppo­nents.

The Chargers’ defense limited the Cav­a­liers to just 93 yards of offense and five first downs. Walsh’s offense advanced the ball past mid­field just three times, and the deepest it got into Hillsdale’s ter­ritory was the 43-yard line. Head coach Keith Otterbein said the defense’s com­mitment to its game plan led to the stellar group per­for­mance.

“It’s hard to get a shutout. We felt like we were in control and moving around really well and putting pressure on the quar­terback,” Otterbein said. “We were real com­fortable with our gameplan. Guys were just trusting their instincts and trusting the game plan. That goes back to having a really good week of practice.”

The defensive unit made four tackles for loss, five pass breakups, seven quar­terback hits, and forced one turnover. Eight players made at least three tackles.

“We did a nice job of main­taining our rush lanes and col­lapsing the pocket on [the quar­terback],” Otterbein said. “In the sec­ondary we were just pinning our ears back and breaking on some balls, and that makes a dif­ference. They didn’t chal­lenge us deep very often.”

On offense, the Chargers’ first two drives ended in a punt and an inter­ception thrown. But on its third drive, the offense moved the ball 49 yards on ten plays for a touchdown to get Hillsdale on the board early in the second quarter. The Chargers con­verted three third downs on the drive, and pos­sessed the ball for more than five minutes.

Senior running back David Graham rushed the ball in from two yards out for the score, his fourth touchdown of the season. Graham fin­ished the game with 65 yards rushing on 20 carries.

Hillsdale rushed for 133 yards total, and junior wide receiver Alex Giampietro scored on a 16-yard end-around run for the Chargers’ second touchdown of the game near the end of the third quarter.

Red­shirt freshman quar­terback Luke Keller com­pleted 12 of 28 passes for 191 yards. He con­nected with junior wide receiver K.J. Maloney for a 56-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to extend the Chargers’ lead to 26.

Maloney, who missed the first game of the season after sus­taining an injury on the first play from scrimmage, has caught 14 passes for 356 yards and two touch­downs in the pre­vious three weeks. He caught five passes for 96 yards on Sat­urday.

“We’ve got a lot of good wide receivers. They’re all fresh when we come in,” Keller said. “They all have their dif­ferent style and they’re all unique and that makes it more chal­lenging for defensive backs to guard them.”

Eight dif­ferent Chargers caught passes in the win. Through four col­le­giate games, Keller has com­pleted 43 percent of his passes and thrown five touch­downs and six inter­cep­tions.

“I’ve always been com­fortable with the offense, but the game has kind of slowed down the past weeks,” Keller said. “I know what I’m doing out there, but it’s just slowed down in the game. I’ve been con­fident these past few weeks and let the game come to me.”

In special teams, senior kicker Bryce Sealock, who has been filling in for junior Joe Philipp while he recovers from injury, went 3 for 3 on field goal attempts on Sat­urday. He nailed field goals of 25, 34, and 31 yards for his first three field goals of the season. He also went 3 for 3 on extra point attempts, and has made 12 of 13 extra points this season.

“He’s done a good job and his demeanor has changed,” Otterbein said. “He was a little nervous early putting pressure on himself and I think he’s become a little more com­fortable with that. As you gain expe­rience the game slows down and you can do your job.”

The Chargers will take a two-week hiatus from con­ference play beginning Sat­urday, as they host Concord Uni­versity (0 – 4) at 1 p.m. Concord is a member of the Mountain East Con­ference, which former G‑MAC school Davis & Elkins College moved to this season. Notre Dame College, which defeated Hillsdale in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs last November, is also a member of the MEC.

Otterbein said the Chargers’ prepa­ration for a non-con­ference team they nor­mally don’t play wouldn’t be any dif­ferent than for a G‑MAC team.

“We gen­erally would watch all of our oppo­nents the same way,” Otterbein said. “The fact they’re a new team creates a dif­ferent envi­ronment for us. It really puts a premium on us defen­sively being assignment sound and taking care of our indi­vidual jobs and respon­si­bil­ities.”

Next weekend, the Chargers travel to Midland, Michigan to play the Northwood Uni­versity Tim­ber­wolves (0 – 4). The Tim­ber­wolves are members of the Great Lakes Inter­col­le­giate Ath­letic Con­ference, which the Chargers were members of from 1975 – 1989 and 1999- 2017. Northwood lost to G‑MAC teams Tiffin Uni­versity and the Uni­versity of Findlay in its first two games of the season by a com­bined 13 points.

The Chargers resume con­ference play on Oct. 19.