ANGOLA, Ind. – The showdown for the 2014 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association football championship proved to be one-sided on Saturday (Nov. 15) as Adrian College took care of their border rival Trine University by the final score of 40-7 at Zollner Athletic Stadium.
Both teams came into the game with identical 4-1 records in the MIAA setting up a winner-take-all game on a chilly afternoon in Angola, Indiana. The Bulldogs never trailed in the contest building a 20-0 halftime lead and then outscoring the Thunder 20-7 in the second half. Adrian (8-2, 5-1 MIAA) executed their offensive game plan to the tune of 321 rushing yards and 192 passing yards against the Thunder defense. Adrian went 6-of-10 on third down and took possession of the ball for nearly double than of Trine in the first half to build a big lead.
Adrian set the tone on the game's first drive as they marched quickly down the field in eight plays for a touchdown. Dae'Von Robinson had a 29-yard run down to the one and then quarterback Aaron Tenney snuck it into the end zone for a 7-0 lead. The Thunder punted on their first drive going three-and-out, but got a 59-yard run to start their second drive by Frantz Petitpapa to the Adrian 21. The Adrian defense tightened and forced a 33-yard field goal by Joel Lopshire who appeared to have his kick partially blocked as the ball fell way short of the crossbar.
The Bulldogs took over the ball with 9:17 left in the second quarter after a touchback and moved the ball 80 yards in nine plays for another Tenney rushing touchdown from two yards. The key play was a fumble recovery by center Dylan Thompson after a pass completion to Emmanuel Stewart at the Trine 30 which kept the drive alive. Trine drove into Adrian territory on their next drive and went for it on fourth-and-6 at the Adrian 37. Jose Alcala came up with a big tackle after just a three-yard gain on a pass to Frank Vuocolo.
Adrian had 2:05 to try and increased their lead and they did just that. The Bulldogs mixed the run and pass and used a pair of timeouts to set themselves up with first-and-goal from the Trine 8 with 25 seconds left in the half. Robinson ran for four yards and the offense quickly got back to the line of scrimmage. Tenney then took the snap and found Kyle Blough in the back of the end zone for a four-yard touchdown with seven seconds to go. Adrian went into the locker room with a 20-0 lead at intermission and gained 160 yards in the second quarter alone.
The third quarter got off to a rocky start for the offense as Stewart put the ball on the ground at the Adrian 35 on their first play. The defense again stood tall as on fourth-and-10 the Thunder went for it and Taylor Masiewicz was intercepted by Mitch Osadchuk at the Adrian 14. The Thunder forced a three-and-out and put together their only scoring drive of the game. Trine moved 50 yards in six plays and Masiewicz carried in from nine yards with 8:54 left in the third making it 20-7.
Like champions usually do the Bulldogs answered the score with their own touchdown. Tenney completed three passes for 48 yards on the drive and then rushed for his third score of the game from two yards with 5:36 left in the third for a 26-7 lead. The Thunder attempted to stay in the game on their next drive moving it to the Adrian 21 and again set up for a fourth down conversion attempt. Senior Jack Carter had other plans as he sacked Masiewicz for a loss of nine yards to stop the drive with 2:01 left in the third.
Adrian took over the ball and looked to be stopped on third-and-9, but Tenney was roughed after the throw for an automatic first down. Adrian took advantage of the mistake as they punched it in on a 51-yard touchdown run by Stewart on the second play of the fourth quarter making it 33-7. Trine got into the red zone on their next drive and Adrian again did not buckle stopping a fourth-and-goal at the 5 as Curtis Rhoden broke up a pass intended for Anthony Yoder with 10:31 left in the fourth.
The Bulldogs put an exclamation point of their second title in three years by pounding the ball downfield with running plays. Adrian carried seven straight times for 95 yards capped off by a 12-yard touchdown run by Stewart with 6:43 left for a 40-7 lead.
"I am so thrilled for our seniors to go out on top with another championship," said head coach Jim Deere. "This whole group has been great all year and have done all the things that myself and the coaching staff has asked of them. The end result is another trophy and a chance to represent the MIAA in the playoffs. Our offensive line has gelled as the season has progressed and rushing the ball really wore out the Trine defense. We controlled the line of scrimmage and played Adrian College football for four quarters."
Adrian finished with two 100-yard rushers in Stewart and Robinson. Stewart carried 24 times for 161 yards while Robinson in his final regular season game carried 13 times for 125 yards. Tenney had one of his best passing days going 15-of-22 for 192 yards and was sacked just once. Nathan Hartline caught seven passes for 108 yards while Ryan Betz caught five passes for 40 yards. Senior Ellis Ewing led the defense with eight tackles. Carter also had a big effort with eight tackles and three tackles for a loss of 15 yards.
"I'm so proud of what this team has accomplished this year," said senior linebacker Wallen Augustin who finished with five tackles. "Being a student-athlete is not easy with everything you have to do, but our team found a way to get it done and beating Trine four straight times is also a sweet way to end our careers as seniors. Our defense has a mentality that has been built into a championship force for two titles in three years. Our legacy at Adrian has been cemented."
The Bulldogs won their 11th MIAA championship in school history and will now await their selection into the NCAA Division III Tournament which begins next Saturday (Nov. 22). The selection show can be watched Sunday (Nov. 16) at 6 p.m. on NCAA.com (http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2014/11/16).