October 24, 2009 – If you asked Hillsdale College football head coach Keith Otterbein to draw up the perfect first half, it would likely resemble what took place on the Frank “Muddy” Waters
Stadium field on a misty Saturday afternoon.
Playing a flawless first 30 minutes, the Hillsdale College football team played one of its best games in one of its biggest games, defeating Wayne State 45-14 Saturday afternoon. The win improves the Chargers to 7-2 overall and 6-2 in the GLIAC on the season. The Warriors are now 6-3 overall. Hillsdale travels to Ferris State on Halloween afternoon for its final regular season road game next week.
The Charger offense executed brilliantly in building a 28-0 lead over the Warriors. Effectively mixing the run and pass, Hillsdale’s offense was at its unpredictable best, with QB Troy Weatherhead combining short throws with some big plays to the team’s talented receivers. Add tough running by RB Vinnie Panizzi, and you came up with an offense that wasn’t forced to punt for the game’s first 51 minutes.
Hillsdale scored on all four of its possessions in the first half, and the team’s two-dimensional offense was on full display. Three of those drives took a total of 29 plays to find paydirt. The other touchdown drive relied on the talent of WR Andre Holmes.
After building a 14-0 first-quarter lead, Weatherhead found Holmes for a 68-yard touchdown pass down the right sidelines that put an early stamp on this game, increasing the Chargers’ lead to 21-0 with 12 minutes left in the second quarter. The three-score lead forced Wayne State to pass more than it was used to doing at that point in the game, and allowed the Charger defense more freedom to make plays. It also allowed Hillsdale’s offense to return to its productive, deliberate personality, a time when the offense tends to be at its best.
The Warriors came into the game with Division II’s leading rusher,. Joique Bell, a player who was averaging 191 rushing yards per game this season. Hillsdale’s defense was up to the task vs. Bell, doing a good job of containing him and not allowing him to set a tempo for the game. Although Bell did finish with 165 yards on 24 carries, the Charger defense gave him 12 rushing yards lost in the game, and in that critical first part of the game, limited him to four yards on four carries in the game’s first 15 minutes.
Although Bell outrushed Panizzi, the Chargers’ starting tailback had a game he can be proud of. He ran the ball 23 times for 127 yards and scored two touchdowns. He was not tackled for a loss during the game, and chewed up the Warriors defense for those important yards in the middle of the field that allowed Hillsdale’s lethal passing game to do its work.
Pulling the trigger on that passing game was Weatherhead, who turned in an outstanding performance. He was 23-for-33 for 356 yards and four touchdown passes. It was the second week in a row Weatherhead’s passes found the end zone four times, and his 356 yards through the air are a season-high, and second most in a single game in his career.
Holmes’ 68-yard touchdown reception was a season-long, and he finished with five receptions for 119 yards and three touchdowns. He scored the team’s first three touchdowns of the game. Complementing Holmes’ spectacular game was senior WR A.J. Kegg, who caught a season-high 10 passes for 131 yards and one highlight-reel touchdown. Kegg caught an 18-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, when he was interfered with, but made a sprawling catch on his back in the blue paint anyway, providing one more highlight on a day filled with them for the Chargers.
Credit should also go to the Charger offensive line, who not only blocked well for Panizzi, but gave Weatherhead important time to throw in the pocket for many of those long scoring passes.
Sophomore Joe Vear led the Hillsdale defense with 10 total tackles. Freshman Nick Galvan continued his terrific rookie season with an interception to go along with one tackle-for-loss and eight total stops and two pass break-ups. Senior Marcellus Wade was very active early in the game, and had eight total tackles. Senior Eric Schweller notched two tackles-for-loss.
Please click on the link below for the stats from Saturday’s game.
Chargers 45, Wayne State 14