Same Time, Next Year

Photo contributed by Erik Schnarr

The smell of fresh popcorn and hot dogs in the air. The “Thunder Copter” landing perfectly on the T of Shive Field. Fireworks going off in the background.  4,850 of Thunder Nation’s finest gathered together under the bright lights of Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium once more for the second night game season opener in school history. With a big dose of school spirit and a well-rounded performance in all three phases of the game, Trine (1-0) won its sixth straight season opener with a 24-14 win over Manchester College (0-1).

Photo contributed by Erik Schnarr

In a game in which Trine never trailed, the Thunder used a 17 point second quarter to help pull out a tight game in the waning minutes. The Thunder offense mixed an efficient passing day by Ryan Hargraves (13 for 23, 123 yards) and a punishing ground attack led by Jared Barton (18 carries for 73 yards) that moved the chains without making mistakes. Trine got a big boost from the special teams unit, as cornerback/return man Myron Puryear scored on a 92 yard kickoff return late in the second quarter. The Thunder defense kept the Spartans in check, holding the run game to less than four yards a carry and Manchester quarterback Nick Williams to 130 yards passing, intercepting him once late on a Blaek Combs grab.

Photo contributed by Erik Schnarr

After trading punts to start the game, Trine gained possession with just under six minutes in the first, Trine embarked on a 15 play, 80 yard drive that spanned nearly nine minutes to take the lead 7-0 on a short Ryan Hargraves run. Not to be outmatched, Manchester went 78 yards in 19 plays, eating up the same amount of time and tied the game at 7 with 3:15 before halftime.

X-Factor Myron Puryear then answered the bell and gave Thunder nation something to hoot and holler about. Catching the ball on the ensuing kickoff at the eight yard line and took off to his right behind an armada of blockers that cleared the way for an open path down the sideline. It immediately shifted the momentum back to the Thunder, who capitalized on a quick three and out by Manchester to march down the field quickly to hit a quick field goal to take a 17-7 lead into halftime.

Photo contributed by Erik Schnarr

The third quarter was a standstill, with the punting unit getting plenty of action on both sides. Facing a 10 point deficit midway through the 4th quarter, the Spartans capitalized on a short field to pull within three, 17-14 with 6:44 to play.  After a brief one minute appearance by the Thunder offense, the defense would bend but not break, and got a key stop on 4th down near midfield. Given the ball and the lead late in the game, the Thunder offense took the ball and in five plays waltzed into the end zone on an 11 yard Ryan Hargraves run that put the game away with 34 seconds left. A desperate attempt by Manchester to make the 24-14 final score fell short, their hopes taken away by the sure hands of defensive back Blaek Combs.

The Thunder hit the road next week, facing off against Elmhurst College. The game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start, and is the second game of the Thunder’s non-conference schedule.


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