DEFIANCE, Ohio – The Adrian College football team defeated Defiance College for the eighth straight time with a 35-13 road victory in the season opener on Saturday (Sept. 6). The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets last opened a season against each other in 2007 and this meeting placed a stamp in the record books. Senior wide receiver Nathan Hartline had a huge game catching five passes for 161 yards with each grab going for a touchdown. Senior quarterback Aaron Tenney tossed all five touchdowns to his classmate and finished 10-of-33 for 265 yards. Hartline set a school record for touchdown receptions in a game while Tenney tied the school record for touchdown passes in a game.
“Nate has the chance to have a great year and today he was simply efficient,” said head coach Jim Deere. “Aaron did not have his most accurate performance but made the throws when he needed and it was a nice win for our team. I think after halftime our defense allowed just 24 yards and we recorded eight sacks for the game. Those numbers led us to today’s win after leading by six at halftime.”
One other statistic that stood out in the opener was that the offensive line for Adrian allowed zero sacks on 34 pass attempts. This was a weakness for the team a year ago having allowed a conference-high 29 sacks. The Bulldogs gained 345 total yards and needed their air attack because they averaged just 2.2 yards per rush to total 80 yards on the ground. Adrian was also minus-3 in the turnover battle but their stout defense equalized that figure.
Adrian’s first drive of the season struck paydirt as they marched 66 yards in nine plays capped off by Hartline hauling in a 15-yard scoring pass on third down and four. Defiance tied the game at 6-6 with 5:16 left in the first quarter as Alex Larson tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Cody Wilson after Defiance had a 27-yard punt return by Wilson to set up the tying score.
Defiance opened up the second quarter with the chance to take a lead but Spencer Saunder missed wide-left from 31 yards. The Bulldogs wasted no time in taking advantage as Hartline streaked 80 yards for his second score of the game to give Adrian a 13-6 lead. After a three-and-out series by Defiance, the Bulldogs used three plays going 57 yards as Hartline caught his third touchdown from 56 yards to take a 19-6 lead with 7:51 left in the second quarter.
Defiance cut the lead to 19-13 heading into halftime as Andrew Prielipp rushed for a one-yard score with 3:20 left until the break. Cameron Cook had a chance to send his team into the locker room with a bigger lead but he missed a 44-yard field goal with 16 seconds left. To his credit, the team took a 15-yard personal foul penalty which took them out of reasonable range.
The momentum of the second half really started by a special teams play coming with 9:14 left in the third quarter. Freshman Connor Storms punted the ball 51 yards to the one-yard line and then Defiance was pinned back and forced to punt themselves. Senior Rashawn Ponder took a 35-yard punt and returned it 35 yards to the Defiance three-yard line. Tenney through a fade route for the fourth hookup of the game from three yards to make it 26-13 with 6:50 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs wrapped up the third quarter with another scoring drive as Cook made his first career field goal from 23 yards capping off a short five-play, 17-yard drive. Adrian concluded the scoring at the 9:15 mark of the fourth quarter as Hartline and Tenney finished their big day with a seven-yard touchdown on another fade route. The Bulldogs will continue non-conference action next Saturday (Sept. 13) with their home opener at 1 p.m. against Carthage College (Wis.).