Story by Hillsdale College
Any road trip in the GLIAC is a treacherous one, something the Hillsdale College football team learned Saturday afternoon.
In a back-and-forth affair, the Chargers came out on the losing end of a 38-37 contest vs. Northwood University in Midland. The loss drops Hillsdale to 2-1 on the season and 1-1 in GLIAC play. The Timberwolves are 2-0 this season.
A sack near midfield by Northwood’s Eric Southern ended the final drive of the game by the Chargers, who rallied from a nine-point first-half deficit to take the lead twice in a wild fourth quarter. The two teams combined to score 25 points in the fourth quarter, and punted a total of five times in the entire game.
Junior quarterback Troy Weatherhead, who had another spectacular game, completed passes of 16 and 19 yards to Mike Blanchard to get Hillsdale to midfield on a drive that began with 32 seconds left on the clock and no timeouts remaining. But Southern’s sack with six seconds remaining clinched the win for the Timberwolves.
In a game dominated by the offenses, Weatherhead put together another sterling performance. He was 28-for-41 for 348 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another score. His short passes to the team’s wide receivers gained yardage throughout the ballgame, and he directed the Hillsdale offense to 455 total yards on the afternoon.
The Chargers scored on their first drive of the game for the third week in a row, when Weatherhead found A.J. Kegg from 19 yards out. The extra point was blocked, putting Hillsdale ahead 6-0.
Northwood set the tone for the day by immediately scoring on its second play from scrimmage, to go on top 7-6. Hillsdale regained the lead on its second drive when senior tailback Vinnie Panizzi scored the first of his two touchdowns on the day. A failed two-point conversion left the score 12-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Timberwolves offense would score two straight touchdowns in the second quarter, and scored on four of their first five possessions overall, to jump ahead 21-12 late in the second quarter. A Mark Petro field goal with nine seconds left in the second quarter set up the halftime score to read 21-15, Northwood.
The Timberwolves would take their largest lead of the game three minutes into the third quarter, on another touchdown, 28-15. Hillsdale, who would string together long scoring drives all day, responded with 14 straight points of its own, on a three-yard touchdown run by Panizzi and a 26-yard pass from Weatherhead to junior wide receiver Andre Holmes to put Hillsdale ahead 29-28. The scoring pass to Homes was huge, because it came on a fourth-and-3 play, the third fourth-down play the Charger offense converted in the game.
After Northwood converted a 48-yard field goal, the Chargers marched down the field again, this time with Weatherhead doing the work himself, scampering nine yards on an option play to give Hillsdale a 37-31 lead with less than seven minutes left in the game. But Northwood, led by quarterback Spencer Klukowski, scored the game-winning touchdown five minutes later. The Hillsdale offense, so productive throughout the game, could not generate any more points in the contest.
Charger wide receivers turned in another terrific game, led by 10 catches for 114 yards by Kegg. Holmes caught eight passes for 115 yards and a score. Junior Mike Blanchard caught six passes for 69 yards, and had 122 kickoff return yards. Panizzi carried the ball 24 times for a season-high 105 yards and two touchdowns. He now has six rushing TDs in three games this season.
Senior co-captain Mat Szula made stops all over the field en route to a career-high 15 total tackles (10 solo stops). Senior Drew Berube broke loose for his best game of the season with three tackles-for-loss and a sack. Senior Jordan Knudsen was a force on defense with two tackles-for-loss, a forced fumble and a sack.
Hillsdale hasn’t won a game in Midland since Oct. 25, 1997. The Chargers have scored 37 points in all three of their games this season. Next week, Hillsdale returns home for its first night game in three years, hosting the University of Indianapolis at Frank “Muddy” Waters Stadium starting at 7 p.m.
Cick on the link below for the statistics from Saturday’s game.