The Hillsdale College Chargers’ football team, led by senior receiver Konnor Maloney’s three touchdown catches, came from behind to beat Ohio Dominican University 21 – 17 at home in their last game of the regular season.
Maloney, who missed the majority of the season due to injury and entered the game with only three receptions and zero touchdowns, carried the Chargers on Saturday. He hauled in three touchdowns and 108 yards on eight receptions.
“I have been fighting all season long to be able to get back on the field with my teammates so I couldn’t have been happier to be able to get the win at home on our senior day,” Maloney said. “This team has meant so much to me the past four and a half years and being able to come back one last time to help us finish our season on a high note will be something I’ll never forget.”
Senior punter Jack Shannon was awarded G‑MAC Special Teams Player of the Week, after punting for 327 yards on seven attempts.
The Chargers fell behind early, allowing 10 straight points in the first quarter. Their only score of the half came with 19 seconds remaining, off an 11-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Garritt Aissen to Maloney, after an interception and 39-yard return by senior defensive back Matt Harding.
Ohio Dominican scored the only touchdown of the third quarter, making the score 17 – 7 heading into the final quarter.
Senior defensive lineman and team captain Nate Chambers, who finished the game with 7 tackles and two tackles for loss, commented on the team’s fourth quarter comeback.
“In the fourth quarter there was never really a moment where we lost the faith,” Chambers said.
Aissen threw a 3‑yard touchdown pass to Maloney for the next score of the game, leaving the Chargers down by three with 9:04 remaining. After a defensive stop, the Charger offense put together an 86-yard clock-bleeding drive which culminated in a toe-tap touchdown catch by Maloney with less than a minute left to play, making the final score 21 – 17.
Otterbein said the team’s culture led to this victory.
“I think what pulls you through a game like that is just the work ethic and the culture you have in your program, the character of your men and the work they do throughout the week,” Otterbein said. “They didn’t flinch. They didn’t blink.”
The Chargers ended their regular season with a conference record of 5 – 2 and an overall record of 6 – 5. After their win on Saturday, the Chargers qualified for their first true bowl game since 1960.
The Chargers will face off against the Truman State University Bulldogs in the America’s Crossroads Bowl in Hobart, IN Dec. 4 at 2 p.m.. The Chargers lost to the Bulldogs 38 – 24 on Sept. 18 with sophomore quarterback Jake Burger passing for 213 yards. The Bulldogs ended their season with an 8 – 3 (4 – 3) record and are returning to the America’s Crossroads Bowl as the inaugural champions from 2019.
Chambers commented on the importance of winning against Ohio Dominican to close out the season.
“It was big for the seniors to be sent off with a winning record,” Chambers said. “That’s always a big one. This is the first time we’ve been above .500 all season.”
The Chargers finished the season in second place in the conference, despite having beaten first place finisher Findlay.
“We really battled through some hard stuff because we lost to some bad teams,” Shannon said. “Those are devastating losses because we had two chances to win the ring and we lost both of them, and that sucks. But despite losing the possible championship, I think we still proved ourselves worthy of it.”
Otterbein expressed the team’s regret over losing to Lake Erie, a game which cost them the championship.
“Everybody’s gonna second guess and shoulda woulda coulda, and certainly there isn’t a guy in our locker room that wouldn’t wanna go back and redo that,” said Otterbein. “But in football and in life there’s no redo, there’s no button to go back, no reverse switch, no start over. So it is what it is. We learned from it, we grew from it, and it made us stronger and closer.”