Jackets Rally Past MSJ, 22-14, on Homecoming Weekend
DEFIANCE, Ohio – Defiance College picked up its second-straight victory over Mount St. Joseph at Coressel Stadium with a 22-14 triumph over the Lions on Saturday. The victory moved DC into third place in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings and capped the weekend's Homecoming festivities for the Purple and Gold.
Defiance and the Mount entered the action on Saturday touting two of the best defenses in the HCAC and they each lived up to the rankings in the opening half, as neither offense dented the scoreboard in a scoreless opening period.
Both sides would find the end zone in the second quarter with MSJ using a 14-play drive to take a 7-0 advantage and the Jackets answering with a 10-play scoring march. The drive was capped by a 20-yard connection from Rick Powell to Rashad Hunt that narrowed the gap to 7-6 at the end of the opening half.
The second half would be controlled by Defiance, as the host squad scored on four of its seven possessions, while holding the Lions to 48 total yards of offense on 26 plays for just 1.8 yards per snap and completely shutting down the MSJ running attack to the tune of just three yards on 14 carries. Along with forcing the Mount to punt on four of its seven drives after the break, Defiance ended two other chances with interceptions.
It did not take long for the scoreboard to begin reflecting the dominant showing from the Yellow Jackets, as DC forced a quick three-and-out on MSJ's opening series of the half. Tom Foos then put DC in front to stay with a 27-yard field goal at the 8:01 mark of the third quarter.
The 9-7 lead would swell to 16-7 in favor of Defiance on the opening possession of the final quarter when Powell scampered in from four yards out to cap an 11-play, 57-yard drive. The Jackets chewed over six minutes off the clock, asserting themselves on the ground by running the ball on all 11 snaps en route to taking the two-possession lead with 9:10 left in the game.
The Lions would show life two drives later, as Chris Howland connected with Derick Tabar on a third and eight for a 41-yard strike that trimmed DC's lead to 16-14 with 2:47 showing on the clock.
MSJ's (3-2, 2-2 HCAC) comeback hopes would be quickly turned away however, as Powell found Nick Wiedenhoft for a 63-yard touchdown pass on the third snap of the ensuing possession to push the gap back to 22-14 just 26 seconds later.
After Jim Conners returned the following kickoff 38 yards to midfield, the Yellow Jacket defense finished the job with a pair of sacks to force a fourth and 28 for MSJ. Longsdorf then sealed the win for Defiance, by picking off the last gasp of the Lions at his own 45-yard line and returning it 31 yards to the Mt. St. Joseph 24-yard marker with under one minute left to play.
The Jackets (2-3) would take a pair of knees to finish the 22-14 win and climb into third place in the HCAC with a 2-1 league mark.
Longsdorf's interception capped yet another memorable showing for the senior safety, as he led Defiance in tackles for the sixth-straight game. Longsdorf ended the day with 16 tackles, one sack, two hits for lost yardage, a pair of pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and the potential game-saving pick.
Longsdorf had plenty of help on Saturday, as Joemese Scott registered six hits and 2.5 sacks and Austin Hedderly ended with six tackles, two sacks and a pass breakup. Luis Zequeira got a start at cornerback and responded with three hits, half a sack and one interception of his own.
Powell and Kuesel powered the offense, with Powell rushing for 101 yards and a score and Kuesel banging out 5.2 yards per carry to end with a season-high 93 yards on the ground.
Powell was also effective with his arm, completing 10 passes for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns to account for 252-of-330 yards of offense for the Jackets and all three touchdowns. Powell's 63-yard completion to Wiedenhoft also marked a career-long for the quarterback.
Hunt and Wiedenhoft's touchdown receptions were their lone catches of the afternoon, while Harvey Morris and Kuesel led all Jackets with three catches each.
Tom Foos had a strong punting day, as the senior averaged 39.0 yards per punt over seven tries and had one land inside the 20-yard line. The seven punts for Foos moved the senior punter to 211 for his career, breaking Bernie Roekers' (1982-1985) previous DC career record of 208.
Rob Taylor also inched closer to a historic mark of his own, as the Defiance head coach earned his 33rd career victory on the sidelines for the Purple and Gold. Taylor now sits just three shy of Malen Luke's (1988-1993) current program record of 36 coaching wins.
Defiance will look to continue its climb up the HCAC standings on Oct. 16, when it travels to Richmond, Ind., for its first league contest against Earlham (0-6, 0-4 HCAC) at 1:30 pm.