Great Scot, We’ve Done It! Trine Takes Down Scots

DSC_5497In their season finale, the Thunder (7-3, 5-1 MIAA) overcame a tougher than anticipated Alma (1-9, 1-5 MIAA) team. Trine finishes the year 2nd in the MIAA behind rival Adrian College, who went undefeated in MIAA conference play. The 35-27 victory let the seniors go out of a high note after four years of blood, sweat, and tears they gave to the program.

The game began with both sides trading punts. On their second possession, Alma took a chance on fourth down with a fake punt, but the pass slipped out of the hands of defensive back Brandon Wegenke. Given great field position at the Alma 35 yard line, the Thunder failed to capitalize. The drive was halted when Hargraves was intercepted on a throw near the goal line.

Trine got on the scoreboard late in the first, relying on the legs of senior running back Michael Inge to gash the porous run defense of the Scots and a few key plays from senior quarterback Ryan Hargraves. Inge punched it in from seven yards out to cap the drive.

DSC_5560Alma took over on the ensuing drive, and a relatively safe play turned into an absolute disaster. Quarterback Jarrett Leister dropped back to pass, attempting to throw a screen to his running back, but his pass instead landed in the lap of Thunder defensive tackle Jake Boswell. The interception gave the Thunder great field position at the Alma 25, and this time they capitalized. Two quick completions by Ryan Hargraves got them to the goal line, and Inge plunged in from a yard out for a 14-0 lead.

The Scots would respond in the second quarter with a long drive fueled by the running game. Running back Shannon Gren did the majority of the tough running, with a 29 yard burst by wide receiver Joey Jerisk setting up a touchdown by Gren.

After a long drive which showed up the dual threat capabilities of Hargraves, the Thunder turned it over on downs just outside of field goal range. Leister then led his team down the field almost at will, completing 7 of 8 passes for 43 yards and running for 12 more. The Scots converted a key 3rd down and a short 4th down attempt to tie the game at 14 heading into halftime.

DSC_5502In the middle of the third, Trine finally got back some momentum. Using the running game again to move the chains and wear down the defense. Backup running back Austin Shoemaker gave the Thunder a spark, refusing to go down on first contact and regularly gaining a few more yards than the play was designed for.  Hargraves 10 yard run off a broken play resulted in a 21-14 lead.

Alma got the ball back and subsequently turned it over on a fumble by running back Aaron Hahn. The Thunder seized the moment, and Shoemaker caught a screen for 24 and ran the ball in from seven yards out for a 28-14 lead.

Leister and the Scots refused to give up however. A 44 yard pass to receiver Tyler Watters and then a 25 yard completion to Jarisk set up a one yard touchdown run by Geren. Early in the fourth, the Scots had made a one possession game.

DSC_5667The Alma defense continued to let the offense down though. Shoemaker turned another screen pass into a long gain, and his carries set up key completions to seldom-used tight end Sean Collins and the touchdown catch by receiver Gage Corner.

Alma had several possessions to try to close the gap, but could not get anything going until 85 seconds remained in the game. Leister attacked the Thunder’s defense with a variety of midrange passes, and Roth finished the drive with a 19 yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked by the Thunder, and the score stood at 35-27 with 15 seconds left.

Backs against the wall, the Scots had no choice but to attempt an onside kick. Chaos ensued, and the ball, bouncing before landing right in the arms of the Scots.

Given one final chance, Leister got a completion to set up a reasonable Hail Mary attempt. Defensive back Blaek Combs ended the game when he intercepted Leister’s pass on the last play.

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