ADRIAN, Mich. – The MIAA/CCIW Challenge proved to be little of a challenge for the Adrian College Bulldogs as they used dominant second and third quarters to power them to a 40-14 win over visiting Carthage College. Adrian trailed 7-0 after 15 minutes but then outscored the Red Men 32-0 in the middle quarters en route to the victory.
Carthage could do very little on offense most of the afternoon and finished with 157 yards. The Red Men gained 120 yards on their first five drives and then managed just 47 yards in their last eight drives of the contest. Adrian seemed to find their rhythm in the second quarter with 15 straight points heading into the locker room for halftime. The Bulldogs (2-0) continued to push ahead mainly on the ground and scored 17 points in the third quarter building a 32-7 lead. Carthage took advantage of a short field for their second touchdown early in the fourth quarter and then Adrian put an exclamation point on the game with a 6:30 drive and covered 73 yards in 12 plays and led to a touchdown.
“We ran the football very well today and found a burst with Emmanuel Stewart,” said head coach Jim Deere. “He and Dae’Von Robinson carried the ball well and our offensive line grew up a lot today. We plugged in new guys and used our depth to open big holes for Stewart in particular. The defense once again did an outstanding job especially in the second half. We gave up just 26 rushing yards and 1-for-10 on third downs which means you are making plays when it matters most.” Carthage opened the scoring at 9:25 of the first quarter after a 31-yard punt return by Jonnie Evans, Jr. set up the Red Men at the Adrian 19-yard line. On the next play, Nick Anzelmo connected with Javier Rhoades on a 19-yard score over the middle as Rhoades went untouched into the end zone after hauling in the pass around the three-yard line.
Adrian’s next drive moved into Carthage territory and on fourth-and-five from the 23-yard line, Aaron Tenney connected on a four-yard pass to Diante Harris just short of the first down. Adrian forced a three-and-out and Adrian took the ball down to the Carthage 21-yard line. On third-and-10, Tenney was intercepted at the four-yard line by Zac Pallissard to end the drive.
Adrian took over with 13:46 left in the second quarter and Stewart darted 60 yards to the end zone on the first play of the drive to cut the lead to 7-6 after a missed extra point. The Red Men moved downfield on 12 plays and set up for a go-ahead field goal but a bad snap led to a missed 25-yard attempt wide-left. Stewart once again broke free with 3:54 left until halftime as he scampered 41 yards on first-and-10 to make it 12-7.
The next drive for Adrian featured a little improvisation by punter Connor Storms. The freshman took a snap and momentarily bobbled the ball but had enough presence of mind to run left side for 18 yards to the Carthage 40-yard line to pick up a first down by two yards. Adrian then drove to the Carthage eight-yard line and Cameron Cook booted a 26-yard field goal with 15 seconds left in the half to give Adrian a 15-7 lead.
Adrian started to pull away beginning on the opening drive of the second half. The Bulldogs used 4:32 and drove 77 yards in 11 plays as Tenney found Harris for a seven-yard touchdown on third-and-goal to make it 22-7. Senior linebacker Juwan King stepped in front of a pass on the next snap by Carthage and tripped up after a six-yard return to the Carthage 22-yard line. Tenney kept it on a sneak from one-yard out four plays later and it was 29-7 with 8:46 left in the third quarter.
Cook connected on his second field goal of the game from 34 yards out on Adrian’s next possession after Rashawn Ponder returned a punt 23 yards down to the Red Men 32-yard line. Adrian controlled the ball for 11:17 in the third quarter and converted on 3-of-4 third down chances. The Red Men cut into the lead early in the fourth quarter as Stephen Milarch was intercepted on his first throw off the bench by Greg Money. The three-yard return set up Carthage at the Adrian 37-yard line and two plays later it was Jamahl Wright hauling in a 10-yard strike from Anzelmo breaking tackles over the middle.
Adrian sealed the win with a time-consuming drive that lasted 6:37 and covered 73 yards in 12 plays. They converted on four third-down chances during the drive with the big play coming on a 42-yard pass from Tenney to Josh Delaney. Stephen Thompson caught his first career touchdown from six yards in the corner of the end zone and Kyle Blough caught a two-point conversion pass from Tenney to finalize the scoring at 40-14.
Stewart finished with 175 rushing yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns in his second collegiate game. Robinson carried 17 times for 68 yards. Tenney completed passes to five different receivers and went 15-for-28 for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Nathan Hartline went over 100 yards for the second straight week with six catches for 106 yards. Freshman Damon Fuller was a menace on the defensive line with nine tackles including 3.5 tackles for loss. Alex Knisley and Brad Baumgartner each had a sack late in the contest.