For the first time in 23 months, the Hillsdale College football team lost a home game.
The Chargers were handed a 29-14 defeat at the hands of Michigan Tech University Saturday afternoon in Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium in the season opener for both teams. Hillsdale, now 0-1, travels to the University of Indianapolis for a 6:00 kickoff next weekend.
Michigan Tech's defense was a big factor in this game, getting consistent pressure with its defensive line while forcing four fumbles - recovering two - and intercepting two passes to keep the Charger offense from sustaining any momentum or stringing long drives together. The Huskies finished the game with 41:09 of possession time, running 83 offensive plays compared to 44 for Hillsdale. MTU converted 8 of 17 third-down attempts and was 4-for-5 on fourth-down conversion attempts in the game.
After the Huskies took the initial lead 3-0, Charger freshman quarterback Luke Keller thrilled the big home crowd by firing a 73-yard touchdown pass to fellow freshman Joe Bentley to give Hillsdale a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. Bentley got behind the defense and showed impressive speed in sprinting the rest of the way to the end zone.
Michigan Tech seized control of the contest with a 20-point second quarter, including 13 points in a 16-second span very late in the quarter. MTU scored on a 17-yard pass to increase its lead to 17-7. A high-arcing kickoff on the next play was muffed and recovered by the Huskies. One play later, QB Will Ark tossed another touchdown pass to suddenly make it a 23-7 game in the final six seconds of the first half.
Hillsdale appeared to generate some positive momentum to open the third quarter. The defense forced a three-and-out, and the Chargers scored off their first drive of the second half. Keller threw a strike to Bentley, who slid into the end zone, making the catch for their second scoring hookup of the day. It surely won't be the last time these two make plays for the Chargers.
The Huskies used their running game to control the ball and the clock throughout the rest of the second half, finishing with a time of possession advantage of more than 20 minutes.
Keller completed 8-of-22 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut. Bentley caught four passes for 102 yards and two scores, while junior tight end Martin Petersen hauled in two passes for 30 yards.
On defense, Drake Temple was again in the middle of the action, intercepting two passes, including one in the end zone, ending a Huskies threat. Zach Herzog was all over the place defensively for Hillsdale, making 10 solo tackles, 20 overall. He's the first Charger player to record 20 tackles in a game since Tom Korte did it during the 2007 season.
PHOTO: Camryn Olson