ADRIAN, Mich.--On a record-setting day that saw host Adrian College play spoiler, the Bulldogs celebrated Senior Day with a convincing 38-24 victory Saturday over Trine University at Docking Stadium.
Adrian ends its season with a 7-3 record while the Thunder (6-4) are knocked out of the chase for the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship with the loss. Both teams finish 4-2 in the MIAA standings.
Sophomore running back Emmanuel Stewart ran for 209 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns, becoming the all-time rushing leader in an Adrian single-season with 1,487 yards. Stewart broke the previous standard held by Kevin Bostelman, who had 1,311 in 2002. In the process, Stewart surpassed Troy Niblock (2,351 from 2006-08) for second place on the school's career rushing chart with 2,489 yards. (No. 1 is Chris Clay with 2,969 from 2002-05.)
Trine was led offensively by quarterback Brandon Rooze who was 19-for-35 for 211 yards, Mark Wilson ran for 121 yards on 25 carries, and Gage Corner caught six passes for 105 yards.
Adrian iced the win on a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by sophomore Eli Villalobos with 1 minute and 40 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Trine got on the scoreboard first after the opening series, marching 75 yards in seven plays in 1:45 of elapsed time. On a razzle-dazzle play, Corner was on the receiving end of a 33-yard touchdown pass from fellow receiver Tyler Peoples to conclude a double reverse.
The Bulldogs, however, responded on its first possession as Stewart punctuated a 6-play, 69-yard scoring drive with an 11-yard run into the end zone. The teams were tied 7-7 at the 10:49 mark of the first quarter.
After a 33-yard field goal by sophomore Cameron Cook to put AC up 10-7, Trine regained the lead to start the second quarter. Wilson had a 5-yard rushing TD to cap a long drive of 95 yards, 16 plays and 5:54 off the clock. The Thunder were up 14-10 with 13:23 to go.
Adrian, again, countered quickly to capture a 17-14 advantage just 37 seconds later. Junior Stephen Milarch connected with freshman Darius Philon for a 19-yard TD pass that was set up by a Stewart rush for 58 yards on the first play from scrimmage.
The Thunder knotted things up again, 17-17, after Mark Haydock drilled a 19-yard field goal at the 3:52 mark of the third quarter. The scoring drive consumed 18 plays and 76 yards in 8:14.
Adrian replied in kind with a terrific scoring drive of its own, taking the lead 24-17 at 14:54 in the fourth after Stewart ran into the end zone from 15 yards out. It took eight plays, 78 yards and 3:58 in time.
The see-saw contest continued on Trine's ensuing possession, which resulted in a J. Harris-Scott 11-yard touchdown run with 12:35 to go.
Stewart scored the go-ahead TD on a 7-yard run to cap a 66-yard drive in nine plays with 7:12 remaining.
Defensively, senior linebackers Dontrell Tucker and John Carlin led the Bulldogs with 17 and 12 tackles, respectively. Both players had 10 solo stops. Senior defensive back Mitch Osadchuk added nine stops and sophomore Damon Fuller posted seven tackles, including 2-1/2 sacks for 15 yards and 4-1/2 tackles for loss of 17 yards.
Michael Spears led Trine with eight tackles, followed by Taylor James and Mitchell Fair with eight apiece. Fair had 2-1/2 sacks.
Adrian also led in total offense (425-372), sacks (7-3) and return yards (159-83). Trine held advantages in first downs (25-24) and time of possession (33:38-26:22).
Albion and Olivet share the MIAA crown, with the former gaining the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Football Championship.
(Story by Patrick Stewart; Photo courtesy of Mike Dickie)