October 1, 2011

Bulldogs Defeat #17 Trine, 26-7, Snapping 20-Game MIAA Win Streak

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ANGOLA, Ind. - The Adrian College football team got sweet revenge after a four-game losing streak against Trine University dating back to 2007 with a convincing 26-7 victory at Zollner Stadium on Saturday (Oct. 1). The annual battle between two of the top programs in the MIAA was the conference opener for both teams and featured an Adrian defense that caused five Trine turnovers including four interceptions against Thunder signal caller Ryan Hargraves. The Adrian win also snapped a 20-game MIAA win streak for Trine and spoiled the Thunder's homecoming contest before a crowd of 5,608.

"It has been a while for us to have this feeling after playing a talented Trine program," said head coach Jim Deere. "I'm so proud of our guys and especially the defense making huge plays all game. We really capitalized off their miscues and built a comfortable lead heading into halftime. It is nice to get this win, but we need several more of these type of games to reach our ultimate goal. Next week we go back home and face Olivet so we can't be too excited and just sit on this moment."

The Bulldogs and Thunder have played close contests over the past four years with the winning margin being just 6.25 points per game. Most of the crowd expected a similar outcome but Adrian created their own opportunities and stifled a Trine offense that has been potent. Neither team could crack the scoreboard in the first quarter. The Bulldogs took their second possession and drove down to the Trine five-yard line, but missed a 22-yard field goal. Both teams also traded fumbles as Danny Cobb coughed it up for the Bulldogs and Hargraves lost a fumble after a hit by Joe Makowski with Hunter Juntunen falling on the ball. Adrian moved the ball through the air with 117 passing yards in the opening quarter.

After Juntunen's fumble recovery, Adrian took over at the Trine 42-yard line and needed just four plays to take a 7-0 lead. Justin Hemm caught a 43-yarder on third-and-14 to get the ball down to the three-yard line and on the first play of the second quarter it was Ce'Juwon McFerrin rumbling up the middle for a three-yard score. It was McFerrin's team-leading fifth rushing touchdown of the season.

Both teams exchanged turnovers in the second quarter as Adrian fumbled at the Trine eight-yard line on fourth-and-two with 11:05 left until halftime. Adrian's defense got the ball right back as Keman Jacobs picked off Hargraves at the Trine 25 and returned it eight yards to the 17. The Bulldogs carried the ball three times and were forced into a 27-yard field goal by Logan Mitseff which gave AC a 10-0 lead with 7:34 to go in the second.

The special teams unit got involved with making a big play as the Thunder had a punt blocked on their next drive as Jordan Clark got a piece of the ball and Kwame Cawarrie scooped it up and ran 10 yards to the Trine 25 with 3:25 left in the quarter. Adrian then went to Mitch Gabriele for a 21-yard touchdown strike from Brandon Miller to extend their lead to 17-0. Trine moved just three yards in three plays and punted back to the Bulldogs with 1:22 left until intermission. The combination of Miller to Gabriele connected on a 25-yard completion as a key play in a drive that ended with Mitseff tying his career-long with a 47-yard field goal to make it 20-0 with 31 seconds left in the opening half. AC outgained Trine, 204-94, in the first half and were 5-of-10 on third down.

Trine looked to get back into the game on their second drive of the third quarter. The Thunder drove down to the Adrian 24 in eight plays, but Hargraves was intercepted by Bryan Garbarino at the 10-yard line and returned it four yards to end the threat. After AC went three-and-out on their next drive, Trine broke into the scoring column on the first play of the fourth quarter. On fourth-and-four from the Adrian seven-yard line, Hargraves found Will Chrystal capping off an 11-play, 59-yard drive to make it 20-7.

The Bulldogs went backwards 10 yards on their next possession and Trine seemed to have a glimpse of comeback potential. That lasted just one play however as Hargraves was intercepted by Juntunen at the Adrian 39-yard line with 13:09 left in the game. Adrian then put the hammer down and sealed the win with a grinding 10-play, 61-yard drive which took 5:43 off the clock and resulted in a Damon Brown five-yard touchdown scamper to give Adrian a 26-7 lead after a failed two-point conversion attempt with 7:34 left in the contest.

Trine drove down to the Adrian 26 on their next possession but self-destructed with a 15-yard illegal block penalty followed by back-to-back sacks. Joe Makowski and Darren Walter split a sack on third-and-19 for a loss of 15 yards setting up fourth-and-34 at midfield. Then Paul Herman dropped Hargraves back at the Trine 43 to turn the ball over on downs with 3:17 remaining. The final nail came on Hargraves' fourth interception of the game as Jeff Makowski picked off his third pass of the year at the goal line with eight seconds left.

Trine ended with 278 yards of offense as Adrian gained 264 yards. The Bulldog rushing attack was held in check with 59 yards on 32 carries. Cobb ran for 44 yards and Miller passed for 205 yards and was 15-of-26 with a score and no interceptions. Hemm caught five passes for 59 yards to lead the receiving corps. Garbarino led the defense with 10 tackles followed by Juntunen with nine stops and 2.5 tackles for loss. Adrian recorded 11 tackles for loss and four sacks in addition to the five takeaways.

Adrian is 5-0 for the first time since 2003 and will host Olivet (0-4, 0-0 MIAA) next Saturday with kickoff at Performance Stadium set for 6:00 PM.

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