ANGOLA, Ind. –The Trine University football team is in unfamiliar territory as they have fallen below 500 in the MIAA for the first time since 2007 as they dropped their home game 28-23 to Hope College. The Thunder are now 5-2 on the season and 1-2 in the conference.
The Thunder defense started the game playing tough as they forced Hope to punt on their first drive. On the Flying Dutchmen’s next possession, sophomore Myron Puryear (Plymouth, Mich./Canton) picked off the Hope pass giving the Thunder good field position. Eight plays later, quarterback Ryan Hargraves (Taylor, Mich./Truman) ran the ball in from eight yards out to put the Thunder on top.
Hope would answer right back as they drove 71 yards in just 2:51 concluding in a 44 yard touchdown pass.
The Thunder rumbled back as they put seven points right back on the board in part to a Hargraves to junior Ja Vontae Hence (Elkhart, Ind./Concord) completion for 24 yards. Senior Kent Biller (Nappanee, Ind./Northwood) finished off the drive as he scrambled in from nine yards out for the score.
After both teams combined for just 14 plays on their next four possessions, Hope tied the game on a one yard run with just 1:24 left in the half.
Trine started the second half with good field position starting from their own 41. Trine slowly chipped away at Hope’s defense, but were stopped on three straight plays. Sophomore Tyler Keck (Elkhart, Ind./Memorial) came on to boot a 33 yard field goal to give Trine back the lead.
Hope tried to tie the game as they marched down the field, but a 35 yard field goal that was missed wide left, gave Trine the ball back.
Trine began driving down the field on the ensuing possession, but a 10 yard sack on third and nine forced the Thunder to punt. After sophomore Nicholas Muir (Edwardsburg, Mich./Edwardsburg) pinned the Dutchmen down at the one yard line with a 44 yard punt, Trine forced Hope to punt after going three and out. On the kick, Hence fumbled on the ball and the Flying Dutchmen scooped it up. From there, a personal foul and a 56 yard completed pass led to a Hope one yard run to take their first lead of the game.
Trine once again started with great field position, as a Hope offsides on the kickoff and a 30 yard return by sophomore Mario Hernandez (Bronson, Mich./Bronson) allowed the Thunder to start at midfield. The Trine offence was unable to get anything going as they were forced to punt after going three and out.
The ensuing possession for the Dutchmen would put the game away. Hope completed four plays of 10 or more yards concluding with a 16 yard touchdown pass to lead 28-17.
The Thunder would tack on a touchdown on the following possession as Hargraves found Hence on back-to-back plays, first for 45 yards and then for a 10 yard touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt was no good and the Thunder trailed 28-23.
Trine had several opportunities on Hope’s final possession to get the ball back, but the defense was unable to come up with a stop. Hope was able to convert on a fourth and inches to finish off the game.
Hargraves finished the afternoon completing 15-of-23 for 234 yards. Biller returned to action after sitting out the previous game, carrying the ball 12 times for 64 yards. Hence led all receivers with a game-high 97 yards on six catches while junior Will Chrystal (Portage, Mich. /Northern) added in four catches for 87 yards.
Penalties were a hindrance all afternoon for the Thunder as they were called for a season-high 10 penalties for 100 yards. Both teams had similar offensive stats as Hope had just 10 more passing yards than the Thunder, 244-to-234. Hope also held a slim advantage in the ground game at 148-to-121.
The last time Trine was under 500 in conference play was following a 45-43 loss to Hope on October 27, 2007. The last time dropped back-to-back home games was in Coach Matt Land’s first season at Trine, as they fell to Franklin and Alma on September 23 and 30, 2006.
Trine will return to the field looking to earn a victory as they travel to Olivet College on October 29 for a 1:00 p.m. game.