Another home game meant another wet outing at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium for the Hope College football team Saturday.
The Flying Dutchmen made the most of the miserable conditions, rallying for a 48-10 win against Albion College in their Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association finale.
Hope (7-2 overall) clinched a second-place finish in the MIAA standings after winning their fifth league game in six tries. A Senior Day victory was satisfying in its own right for the Flying Dutchmen.
"It means everything because we talked about it on Monday, that this was about them," head coach Peter Stuursma said of his seniors. "I'm really personally grateful for what they've done and what they've gone through.
"They've set that foundation — that bar a little bit higher each time — so when those younger guys come in they're shooting for something. It's really hard to talk about them because they've just done so much for us."
From the earliest points of the contest, it was apparent the run would dominate this performance. The trio of sophomore quarterback Mason Opple of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) and seniors running backs Brandan Campbell of Otsego, Michigan (Otsego) and Chris Leigh of Lake Orion, Michigan (Lake Orion) didn't disappoint.
The Britons got on the scoreboard first with a 35-yard field goal with just over 10 minutes left in the first quarter but better things were to come for Hope.
Campbell would get the Dutchmen going with a 3-yard touchdown run with four minutes left to go in the first quarter — starting a string of 34 unanswered points over the next three quarters.
"Our offensive line, we started to get hungry there," Stuursma said. "I think it started in the second quarter."
Hope put together a 99-yard drive capped off with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Opple to Leigh to put Hope up 13-3 with 9:43 left in the first half.
As the offensive line opened up holes, Campbell, Leigh and Opple started using patience as a running tool.
Leigh led the Flying Dutchmen with 175 rushing yards on 19 carries with a total of three touchdowns (two on the ground, one through the air.)
"It was a lot of fun," Leigh said. "It felt like I turned the clock back a couple years and started playing like I knew I could. The O-line helped me out all game. Anyone could have run through those holes, it felt good."
"Our dudes up front are sweet so we just let our linemen get their blocks and let it form," Opple said. "We had to pause though, give them a little time because they were pulling or whatnot, and they were able to give us some holes and we shot them. It was nice."
Opple finished the day with 140 yards rushing on 18 attempts and two touchdowns while completing 6-of-15 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown.
"We knew going into it they were going to try and stop the run," Opple said. "On a day like this when it's raining and it's cold, you kind of know it's going to be one of those grind it out football games."
Campbell scored two touchdowns and racked-up 124 yards on 22 carries.
"When their pads are squared-up and they're going downhill, they're pretty tough to stop," Stuursma said of his running crew. "You look at the combination of Brandan Campbell, Mason Opple and Chris Leigh, that was a three-headed monster for sure."
Their offense rushed for just 100 yards rushing and 167 yards passing for 267 yards compared to Hope's effort of 508 total yards on 460 yards rushing and 48 yards passing.
Senior Jacob Pardonnet of Brighton, Michigan (Brighton) and Zach Telfor of Charlotte, Michigan (Charlotte) led the Flying Dutchmen defense with seven tackles apiece. Telfor also recorded three sacks - enabling him to match his career-high with 8.5 on the season.
Trine earned a share of the MIAA title and the league's berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs with a 41-6 win at Alma College on Saturday.
The Flying Dutchmen conclude the 2017 season next Saturday with a nonleague game at Concordia, Wisconsin. Kickoff is noon Central.