Freshman Tim Boyd runs the ball against Lake Erie on Sat­urday. (Camryn Olson | Courtesy)

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.