The Hillsdale College Chargers football team remains winless on the season after losing 38 – 24 against the Truman State Bulldogs Saturday.
The Chargers struggled in the absence of junior starting quarterback Luke Keller and senior middle linebacker Kyle Kudla, allowing 38 points and only scoring 3 points through three quarters. Though they staged a 21-point comeback in the fourth quarter, it would not prove enough to break the Chargers’ two game losing streak.
Coach Otterbein took responsibility for the Chargers’ loss this past Saturday.
“The miscommunications, the misfits, the little mistakes, are my fault,” said Otterbein. “Because we’re letting them get away with it.”
Truman State scored the first touchdown of the game on a 25-yard pass from Nolan Hair to Zach Zerwig, and Hillsdale answered on the following drive with a 42-yard field goal from Julian Lee, making the score 7 – 3. Truman State went on to score two more touchdowns in the first quarter, the last on an 88-yard run by Cody Schrader.
Junior defensive back Zach Herzog, who finished the game with 9 tackles and a forced fumble, said the Chargers’ poor performance in the first quarter was a memorable lesson.
“The biggest takeaway is the need to start the game off fast,” Herzog said. “For us to win, we have to be able to play consistently across 4 quarters.”
Hillsdale’s offense, led by their backup quarterback, sophomore Jake Burger, was unable to find the endzone as the second quarter drew to a close, whereas Truman State added a field goal and touchdown to their lead, making the score 31 – 3 at halftime.
When asked about Burger’s performance, Head Coach Keith Otterbein maintained a positive outlook.
“I thought Jake did fairly well for his debut,” Otterbein said. “He’s capable of playing better but certainly for his first time out, he made some nice throws, did some nice stuff.”
The Chargers received the second half kickoff, but punted the ball away on their first drive. A forced fumble on the goalline by Zach Herzog prevented a Truman State touchdown on the following possession. After a Hillsdale punt and a Truman State touchdown, Burger led the Chargers on the final drive of the quarter, which would culminate in a 12-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Michael Harding in the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Isaac TeSlaa, who finished the night with 90 yards and a touchdown, offered insight into the Chargers late-game comeback.
“We just kept going at it every play, no matter what the scoreboard said,” said TeSlaa. “The coaches instill hard work into us, and we just kept doing what we’re taught to do.”
A fourth quarter interception by freshman defensive back Jackson Gillock set up another 16-yard touchdown pass from Burger to TeSlaa, making the score 38 – 17 with 4:26 left in the game. Truman State’s next drive would be cut short by an interception by junior defensive lineman Ryan Sellars, who returned the ball 19 yards for a touchdown, making the score 38 – 24. After forcing a 3‑and-out on Truman State’s next possession, Burger would fumble the ball away with 1:52 remaining, ending the Chargers hopes of an unlikely comeback victory.
The Chargers will host their homecoming game at 4 p.m. this Saturday against Missouri S&T, who enters the week with a 2 – 1 record. Otterbein said he is focusing on the improvement he and his coaching staff will look to make this coming week.
“We’re going to concentrate on the process,” said Otterbein. “We’re going to pay attention to all of the minor little details, and play better by transitioning what we have detailed in practice into what we’re doing in the game.”