ADRIAN, Mich. – Aaron Smith broke loose for a 58-yard touchdown run in the opening half and a fourth quarter completion from Garrett Teague to Joey Chester went for a 54-yard score and a 13-12 Defiance lead with 13:23 to play at Adrian, but the home Bulldogs rallied for a pair of scores to edge out a 23-13 victory.
After surrendering an Adrian touchdown on the opening possession of the evening at Performance Stadium, the Yellow Jacket defense dug in to limit the Bulldogs to just one first down and 16 total yards of offense the rest of the half.
A turnover deep in DC's own territory gave Adrian its only other chance of the half but the hosts capitalized with a 31-yard field goal for the 9-0 lead with 8:13 to play before the break.
Defiance answered just over one minute later, as Smith's 58-yard scamper capped a three-play drive and put the Purple and Gold on the board for the first time of the 2012 campaign. The five quarter scoreless drought to open the year ended with the Lima Bath High's first collegiate touchdown and brought DC within 9-7 with 6:52 showing on the clock.
The two-point deficit would hold until the half, as Defiance ended the opening two quarters with 96 rushing yards, while holding Adrian to just 96 total yards of offense. Smith accounted for much of that damage with 63 yards on three carries, while Trevon Burrell ran the ball five times for 28 yards.
The tide slowly began to turn in the second half however, as Adrian started to take control of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and would eventually get into its own red zone on all but one of its second-half possessions. The AC defense also settled in, holding the Jackets to just 22 yards on the ground in the final 30 minutes of action.
Despite the repeated lengthy drives from the Bulldogs, Defiance yielded only a field goal in the third quarter and entered the final period facing a 12-7 deficit.
Another big play from the Jackets momentarily turned the game around, as Teague found Chester through the air for a 54-yard touchdown strike that vaulted Defiance to the 13-12 lead with just over 13 minutes left in the contest.
The advantage would not hold however, as Adrian countered with a 49-yard touchdown pass of its own on the ensuing possession. The Bulldogs then converted a two-point conversion to take a 20-13 lead at the 10:30 mark.
The scoring would slow once again after the fireworks to open the fourth, with neither side denting the scoreboard until the closing minute, when Adrian connected on a 20-yard field goal with 51 seconds on the clock to seal the 23-13 victory.
Adrian (1-1) ended the evening with 284 rushing yards on 56 carries, amassing 202 yards on the ground in the final two quarters, while DC ran the ball 38 times for 118 yards on the night.
Smith ended with 75 yards and one touchdown on five carries, while Chester racked up 79 yards and one score on his three receptions.
Hunter Robertson paced the defense with 13 stops and Andrew Leverenz ended with nine tackles, 3.5 stops for lost yardage and 1.5 sacks. D.J. Brigham and Matt Forry also had busy nights, with nine hits apiece.
Defiance (0-2) will return home on Saturday, September 15 for its Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener against Rose-Hulman. Action is set to begin at 1:30 pm inside Justin F. Coressel Stadium and the contest will be webcast live at www.DefianceAthletics.com/video.