Bulldogged Effort Enough To Withstand Thunder

After a three game winning streak, during which the Thunder (4-3, 2-1 MIAA) posted at least 27 points in every contest, Trine failed to reach the end zone, scoring just three points in a defensive slugfest. Longtime MIAA rival Adrian (5-1, 3-0 MIAA) held Trine under 200 total yards of offense and won the hard way, by eating the clock with the running game and playing suffocating defense.

The Bulldogs came out ready to enforce their will, pounding the ball early and often behind the combination of running backs Dae’von Robinson and Danny Cobb. Cobb busted out for several big plays in early down situations, keeping the chains moving and avoiding third and longs. After the Thunder defense finally forced a third and long deep in their territory, the Bulldogs came away empty after their 27 yard field goal attempt was missed.

In their first drive of the second quarter, the Bulldogs posted the first points of the contest. A mix of Dae’von Robinson runs early followed by a huge 24 yard run by Danny Cobb placed them in prime position to get points. Facing third down and three on their own goal line, the defense stood tall, as defensive back Michael Spears stuffed Adrian quarterback Tyler Copacia as he ran around right end. Adrian attempted a field goal and hit it this time to take a 3-0 lead with ten minutes left in the second quarter.

Adrian, after another drive failed to produce points for Trine, finally got what they wanted: touchdown. Copacia completed two passes which resulted in key third down conversions, both to wide receiver Justin Hemm, one across the middle for 24 yards and another for 15 off a quick slant. Copacia, who would finish with only 86 yards passing on the day, was the catalyst to this drive and finished it off on a quarterback sneak to give Adrian a 10-0 lead.

In the third quarter, both sides struggled to move the ball, and another Copacia turnover resulted in zero points for Trine. The Thunder could just not piece together enough big plays to extend drives, frequently having the ball for multiple plays but unable to get one or two more first downs to break the Bulldog defense.

In the final fifteen minutes, the Thunder were still down 10-0, and despite being outplayed still had a chance to make it a game. After defensive end Louis Danesi came up big with a third down sack for Trine, the offense got the ball back with seven minutes left and finally got going.

The offense methodically moved down the field behind the arm and legs of quarterback Ryan Hargraves. Wide receiver Mario Hernandez also chipped in, drawing a pass interference call and catching a pass over the middle for 18 yards that moved the ball to the doorstep of the Adrian end zone. The drive came up five yards short, and down two possessions Trine settled for a field goal to make it 10-3 with two minutes remaining.

The Thunder did not attempt an onside kick but instead put trust in their defense it would hold. It did not however, as running back Kyle Smock gained eight yards on 1st down and Copacia gained another two on second down as Trine began to burn its timeouts. The first down resulted in the running out of the rest of the clock and Adrian pulling out a tough victory.

Trine has a bye this week followed by a trip to Holland Municipal Stadium to take on Hope College on October 27 at 1:00 p.m.

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