Thunder Take Down Dutchmen

With points, big plays, and highlights galore, Trine (5-3, 3-1 MIAA) scored 45 points, their best offensive outing of the season against Hope (4-5, 3-2 MIAA). Wide receiver JaVontae Hence (302 all purpose yards), quarterback Ryan Hargraves (302 yards passing, 4 Total TD’s) and running back Austin Shoemaker (151 rushing yards) all had big games for the Thunder.

Both teams scored on their first three possessions, with the Thunder riding Ryan Hargraves arm to move the ball and Hope the legs of running back Shawn Jackson. Trine led 17-13 after both offenses kept trading punches. The Thunder’s would then connect on an 82 yard haymaker courtesy of JaVontae Hence. Hence picked up some blocks on a kickoff return and just like that waltzed into the end zone and gave the Thunder a 24-13 lead. The ensuing excitement on the Thunder sidelines even led to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but clearly turned the tide against the Dutchmen.

Despite the Thunder defense struggling to stop Hope, Trine never trailed. They did a good job of keeping Hope out of the end zone, forcing them to settle for three field goals, two of which were deep in the red zone. The next possession after the kick return touchdown was an example, as the Thunder made Hope settle for three points after driving 65 yards down the field.

The end of the half did not turn out how Trine or kicker Tyler Keck wanted it to, as his field goal attempt was blocked with five minutes to go in the half. Taking over at the Trine 35, the Dutchmen methodically moved down the field before quarterback Michael Atwell hit David Brown for the score near the end of the second half. The ensuing two point conversion failed, and Trine took a 24-22 lead into the third.

The second half begun like the first, with Hargraves continuing his great game and moving the Thunder down the field using all of his weapons including tight end Anthony Yoder, receiver Mario Brown and receiver Mario Hernandez. Hargraves ran it in from three yards out and Trine now had a nine point advantage.

After a Dutchmen punt and a Hargraves interception, the defense came up with a huge stop. Facing first and goal at the 3, the Thunder forced an incompletion. Second down was a 2 yard rush by Atwell to the 1. Twice Hope ran the ball, twice they failed to get in, as Trine linebacker Tony Miranda made the play to stop running back Brian Lynn on fourth down and goal.

Out came the Thunder offense, and after Hargraves ran twice to get out of the shadows of their own end zone, connected with Hence on a school record breaking play. Hargraves threw a strike to Hence, who went 93 yards to the house, tying the MIAA record for longest reception in the conference’s 125 year history. The big play gave Trine a 16 point lead early in the 4th quarter. Hence would finish the day with 175 yards receiving on 9 catches, as well as MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

The Flying Dutchmen weren’t quite done yet though. Atwell hit his wide receiver Taylor Brynaert for 49 yards and then moments later a 10 yard touchdown pass to Matt Kroll. Down 10 after the touchdown, Hope went for two and failed again.

In what was essentially the nail in the coffin, Trine running back Austin Shoemaker finished off his career day by rushing seven times on the drive for 35 yards. His ability to not only pickup yards but also keep the clocking moving ate up five crucial minutes and made the score 45-28 midway through the fourth.

After forcing Hope to turn the ball over on downs twice, time ran out and Trine walked away with another MIAA conference win. Their 3-1 record is second only to Adrian with two games left on the conference schedule. Trine takes on Olivet (0-8, 0-4 overall) at home in Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium at 1 p.m. next Saturday.

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