The Hillsdale College Chargers improved to 4 – 1 in the G‑MAC with a 56 – 21 win over the Alderson Broaddus University Battlers on Saturday in Philippi, West Virginia. The 35-point margin of victory is the Chargers’ largest this season.
Despite scoring a season-high 56 points, the Chargers’ first three series on offense ended in two punts and a turnover on downs. But with the game still scoreless toward the end of the first quarter, a special teams breakthrough got Hillsdale rolling.
Set to receive the ball on a fourth-down punt from Hillsdale, the Battlers instead muffed the kick, and the Chargers recovered in Alderson Broaddus’ territory. Hillsdale’s offense needed just two plays from there to get on the scoreboard.
After a first-down rush, redshirt freshman quarterback Luke Keller connected with junior wide receiver K.J. Maloney for a 34-yard touchdown, and after the Battlers tied the game with a touchdown on their next drive, the Chargers took over and didn’t look back.
“That turnover on the punt really broke things open. Those kind of game-changing plays that can explode a game were all over the place and went in our favor,” head coach Keith Otterbein said. “Well-executed plan in that phase. It’s nice when you can put together a game plan and have that executed.”
On the final play from scrimmage of the first quarter, Keller again connected with Maloney for quick scoring strike, this time a 59-yard completion, to put Hillsdale back ahead for good.
Maloney caught a third touchdown pass, from 30 yards out, in the third quarter. He finished the game with those three receptions — all for touchdowns — and 123 yards.
“I guess if he had three catches and three touchdowns we should have thrown to him more,” Otterbein said. “We’re able to get him the ball more in the first and second down passing game when we see more zone coverage. When people are playing man-to-man, there aren’t a lot of short-control throws against that type of coverage.”
Maloney ranks fourth in the conference this season with 38 receptions and 698 yards, and is now tied for touchdown receptions, six, after doubling his yearlong output on Saturday.
Keller finished the game completing nine of 19 passes for 192 yards and the three touchdowns to Maloney. Junior quarterback Ty Cox replaced Keller late in the third quarter and completed six of eight passes for 52 yards and two touchdowns.
Cox’s first touchdown went to redshirt freshman tight end Brecken Stewart for a nine-yard score. The touchdown reception was the first of Stewart’s career. He finished the game with three receptions for 19 yards, and has caught passes in his last three games.
Senior running back David Graham carried the ball 15 times for 132 yards and two touchdowns. His 14 total touchdowns this season are first in the G‑MAC. He now averages more than 100 yards on the ground per game after failing to crack 100 rushing yards in three of the team’s first four games this year.
Defensively, the Chargers came up big early in the game while their offense was struggling to get going. On the first series of the game, sophomore defensive back Zach Herzog intercepted a pass to stop a Battlers’ drive that had nearly reached the red zone. The interception was the first of Herzog’s career.
On the first play of the second quarter, senior defensive back Jason McDonough intercepted a pass and returned it to the Battlers’ one yard line to set up Graham’s first touchdown rush of the game. Later in the quarter, the Chargers kept Alderson Broaddus off the scoreboard by keeping the Battlers out of the end zone on four plays from Hillsdale’s four yard line, forcing a turnover on downs.
Sophomore defensive lineman Kyle Parran recorded three sacks, tying a career-high. After missing the first four games of the season due to injury, Parran has gradually gotten back into the groove he seemed to be in down the stretch last season, and has four sacks in his last two games.
“It was kind of disappointing for him because he had a good offseason,” Otterbein said of Parran’s’ early-season absence. “But he’s coming on and doing a good job. He’s back into where he might have left off last year.”
Senior kicker Bryce Sealock, who is the team’s number-one placekicker and punter for the first time in his career because of injuries to both Hillsdale’s starting kicker and punter, made all eight of his extra-point attempts after touchdowns and was named the G‑MAC Special Teams Player of the Week for the first time in his career.
The Chargers travel to Tiffin, Ohio on Saturday to take on the Tiffin University Dragons, who are 5 – 0 in the conference this season. Last year, Hillsdale defeated Tiffin 48 – 26 in the last week of the regular season to decide the G‑MAC champion.
“These guys are the real deal,” Otterbein said of this year’s Dragons. Tiffin has won six consecutive games after beginning the season 1 – 1 against non-conference opponents.