As the years go on, people won't see the deplorable weather that plagued Saturday afternoon's G-MAC football showdown between Hillsdale College and Kentucky Wesleyan College. Players and fans of the Chargers will only see a quality win.
Hillsdale overcame turnovers and constant, cold rain to defeat the Panthers 41-14 at Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium. The win gets Hillsdale back on the winning track and gives the team a 5-3 overall record and 3-1 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
The rain started more than an hour before kickoff and did not let up at all throughout the game, causing major problems for both teams. There were four total turnovers and 22 penalties called - 11 on each team - as neither offense was able to find a rhythm in the miserable conditions.
The Panthers struck first, picking off a pass and taking it back 33 yards to take a 7-0 first-quarter lead. But the Chargers ran off the next 34 consecutive points, 21 of those coming in the decisive second quarter.
With the passing game weakened due to the weather, Hillsdale relied on its ground game and that meant getting the rock to David Graham, a player who is outstanding in any conditions. He scored a single-game career-high four touchdowns, coming from 7, 1, 16 and 8 yards out capping a day where he ran 21 times for 97 yards. His slippery running along with good run blocking by the offensive line helped flip the game in Hillsdale's favor after Kentucky Wesleyan got the early lead with a big play.
A 38-yard catch by tight end Martin Petersen set up the go-ahead touchdown in the second quarter. Quarterback Luke Keller threw a quick pass to Petersen, who ran straight through the KWC defense and was barely tripped up just shy of the goal line. Two plays later, Graham powered in to give Hillsdale a 14-7 lead less than five minutes into the second quarter.
Two drives later, senior safety Drake Temple came up with another big play for the defense. After the Panthers completed a pass across the middle, a fumble was forced and Temple scooped it up and returned it 30 yards, setting Hillsdale up at the Panther 16-yard-line. On the very next play, Graham bounced off the right side of the formation and scored his third touchdown of the quarter, making it a 21-7 Charger lead.
Bruce Sealock was terrific in the bad weather, kicking five extra points and two field goals, covering 33 and 38 yards, the latter a season-long. Backup tailback Jake Umholtz was impressive in limited duty, scoring on a one-yard touchdown run one play after sprinting for a career-long 47 yards.
Defensively, senior linebacker Dan Shanley feasted upon the Panthers, recording three sacks, a single-game career high. He had 7 total tackles, 4 of them for lost yardage in an impactful performance. Senior linebacker Nate Jones led the Chargers with 8 total tackles while Zach Herzog compiled 5 solo tackles. Kyle Parran also had a sack for the defense.
PHOTO: Camryn Olson