OLIVET, Mich.--Host Olivet College broke open a close game in the fourth quarter en route to a 35-7 win over Adrian College in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association opener for both teams on a cold and rainy Saturday at Cutler Athletic Complex. The Comets improve to 4-0 overall while the Bulldogs fall to 2-2 on the season.
After a scoreless first half, Adrian got on the scoreboard first with a Stephen Milarch 1-yard touchdown plunge with 11 minutes and 10 seconds left in the third quarter to cap a nine-play, 68-yard drive in 3:46.
However, on Olivet's ensuing possession, Jason Barbosa caught a 72-yard TD pass from Braden Black on the Comets' first play of the second half and a Gunnar Aper point-after tied the contest at 7-all just 21 seconds later.
Milarch, a junior quarterback, led the Bulldogs with 61 yards rushing on 15 carries and sophomore running back Emanuel Stewart had 53 yards in 13 attempts. Milarch also threw for 178 yards on 14 of 27 while sophomore tight end Joey Kosielski (2 catches, 59 yards) and Stewart (5, 54) led the receiving corps.
Signal caller Braden Black paced the Olivet offense with 21 completions on 30 attempts for 300 yards, followed by Chris Jones with 82 yards rushing on 17 carries and Andre Houston rushed for four touchdowns. Jason Barbosa contributed to 112 receiving yards on five catches.
Undaunted, the Bulldogs went on the offensive again, driving to the Olivet seven yard line for a field goal attempt. Sophomore Cameron Cook's kick was tipped at the line and deflected wide. Having dodged another bullet, the Comets took the lead for good on their next possession on a 13- play, 80-yard drive which ended in the Bulldog end zone after Houston's 1-yard run--his first score on the afternoon.
Now trailing for the first time, 14-7, the Bulldogs tried to tie the score on the next possession, and got a great start as freshman D'Angelo Gaines brought the kickoff back 49 yards to the Comet 38 yard line.
Adrian got as close as the Olivet 18 before losing the ball on downs, only to see Olivet march 82 yards for another Houston touchdown.
Now trailing 21-7, Olivet got a huge break when it was able to pin the Bulldogs back on their own one yard line after a mishandled kickoff. A now fired up Comet defense forced a three-and-out and punting against the wind from his own end zone, sophomore Conner Storms' punt only reached the Adrian 22 yard line, which Olivet turned into points on its first play from scrimmage on Houston's third touchdown run.
Adrian's next drive ended two plays later on an interception by Olivet's Jaquan Short at the Adrian 44, as Short jetted down the Olivet sideline 43 yards to the Bulldog one, where Houston took it in for the game's final score.
Despite the score, Adrian was able to amass 321 yards of total offense.
The Bulldogs defensive efforts were led by seniors John Carlin, Mitch Osadchuk and Dontrell Tucker, who all registered double digit tackles. Carlin was responsible for 14 stops while Osadchuck had 11 tackles and Tucker accounted for 10.
For the Comets, Walter Love III Justin Madar had seven tackles apiece.
Adrian returns to gridiron action next Saturday when the Bulldogs host Alma College at Docking Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.
--David VanGeison contributed to this game recap.