KALAMAZOO, MICH. – Big plays in the second half proved to be too much to overcome for the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology football team, as the Fightin' Engineers fell on the road to Kalamazoo College, 28-23, Saturday at Angell Field.
Senior quarterback Ryan Landwehr (Tipp City, Ohio/Tippecanoe) led the Rose-Hulman offense, completing 19 of 34 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. He was also the Engineers' top rusher, finishing with 62 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
The Engineers (0-1, 0-0 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference) took an early lead, striking first on a three-yard rushing touchdown by Landwehr with 6:07 to go in the first quarter. The 10-play, 37-yard drive was set up by a Kalamazoo fumble, forced by Rose-Hulman sophomore Anthony Adamo (Chino, Calif./Chino) and recovered by junior teammate Josh Sonneberger (Edon, Ohio/Edon).
Kalamazoo College (1-0) would respond with 14 seconds left in first quarter, playing on a short field after Josh Wise returned a Rose-Hulman punt to the Kalamazoo 48-yard line. Hornets sophomore quarterback Justin Danzy rushed 1 yard for a touchdown seven plays later to tie the game at 7-all.
With 11:33 to play in the half, Rose-Hulman would benefit off a high snap to Kalamazoo's punter, who kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety to give the Engineers a 9-7 lead.
The Engineers took advantage on the ensuing drive, as Landwehr delivered a 4-yard touchdown pass at the 8:50 mark to sophomore wide receiver Jacob Dye (Tipton, Ind./Tipton) to complete an eight-play, 55-yard drive and put Rose-Hulman up, 16-7.
Adamo and the Engineers defense came up with a big play with the Hornets threatening on the Rose-Hulman 11-yard line, when the sophomore intercepted a Danzy pass in the end zone to give the ball back to the Engineer offense and send them into halftime with a 16-7 lead.
Two big plays in the second half helped shift the momentum back to the home team, as Kalamazoo sophomore Elijah Hamilton-Wray returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown to trim Rose-Hulman's lead to 16-14.
On the very next drive, Kalamazoo forced a Rose-Hulman fumble and Jake Larioza returned it 30 yards for a touchdown to give the Hornets a 21-16 lead with 13:40 left in the third quarter.
The Engineers' capitalized on another Kalamazoo mishap near the end of the frame, when the Hornets mishandled a punt attempt. Rose-Hulman freshman Sterling Mitchell (Indianapolis, Ind./Brebuef) and graduate student Kris Geyer-Roberts were able to make the tackle, giving the ball to the Engineers' offense on the Kalamazoo 35-yard line.
Landwehr hit a wide-open Aaron Abbott (Lebanon, Ohio/Lebanon) over the middle for a 37-yard touchdown pass four plays later, give Rose-Hulman a 23-21 lead with 8:56 to play in the third quarter.
Kalamazoo would have one last answer, as Danzy hit Wise for a 26-yard touchdown pass-play with 28 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Hornets a 28-23 advantage.
The Rose-Hulman defense came up with several big stops in the fourth quarter to keep the Engineers alive, but the offense wasn't able to capitalize. Rose-Hulman had one final shot at the end zone with 3.5 seconds to play, but Kalamazoo defenders batted down a hail mary attempt from the 50-yard line by junior quarterback Brian Soller (Indianapolis, Ind./Roncalli), who came in under center for the Engineers' final two drives.
Rose-Hulman finished the contest with 133 yards rushing, led by Landwehr's 62 yards. Junior teammate Greg Lee (Christiansburg, Va./Christiansburg) added 49 yards on the ground to help the Engineers outgain Kalamazoo, 133-87.
Abbott led a strong receiving group with five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. Dye tallied four catches for 25 yards and a score and senior Connor Gerhart (La Mesa, Calif./La Jolla Country Day) added three receptions for 31 yards.
Danzy finished with 279 yards passing to lead Kalamazoo, completing 25 of 40 pass attempts with an interception. His prime target was Wise, who finished with a game-high 10 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown.
Rose-Hulman forced the Hornets into four fumbles for the game, recovering two of them. Cody Rivers (Coconut Creek, Fla./Monarch) led the Engineers with 11 total tackles (eight solo), Kevin Nowak (Naperville, Ill./Central) added nine and Chris Sander (Baileyville, Ill./Forreston) had eight.
Kalamazoo held a slight advantage in total offense, 366-317.
The Engineers return to the field for their home opener Saturday, Sept. 14, when they face Centre College for a 7 p.m. matchup at Cook Stadium.