Late Surge Pushes Hope into OT Before Falling 24-21

A.J. Gill

HOLLAND, Mich. – It looked pretty grim on Saturday afternoon at Holland Municipal Stadium as Hope built a 21-0 through three quarters against the Bulldogs. Then Adrian (7-2, 3-2) staged a comeback with 21 points in the final quarter to push the game into overtime, where they eventually lost 24-21 snapping a three-game winning streak against the Flying Dutchmen. Adrian now occupies third place in the MIAA standings with the loss having just one more game against Alma to finish up the 2011 season next Saturday.

Hope (6-3, 4-1) built a 6-0 lead at halftime behind a pair of field goals by Evan Finch. He kicked a 32-yarder in the first quarter with 9:52 left and then followed with a 20-yarder with 7:59 left in the second. Adrian kept the ball for 10:24 in the first quarter and gained 99 yards but faltered on third down going 1-for-4 and fourth down going 0-for-1. The Bulldogs were completely stymied in the second quarter however running 14 plays and gaining just 16 yards with no pass completions. Hope meanwhile gained 103 yards in the second on 20 plays with 78 rushing yards.

Hope took the second half kickoff and marched down the field in eight plays covering 70 yards in 4:26. Michael Atwell completed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Chris Schmelz on fourth-and-2 for the scoring play. Shawn Jackson added a two-point conversion run as the Flying Dutchmen led 14-0.

Adrian fumbled away the ball on their first offensive play after the score and Hope drove down to the Adrian 15-yard line before Finch had a 32-yard field goal blocked by Darren Walter. Two plays later however, Brandon Miller was intercepted by Mark Karam at the Adrian 20-yard line. Karam returned it four yards to setup a short field.

Hope took seven plays to cover those 16 yards but Jackson made the turnover hurt with a two-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 with 3:39 left in the third to give Hope a 21-0 advantage. Adrian began to answer the bell and started their comeback late in the third. The Bulldogs moved to the Hope two-yard line to start the fourth quarter as Damon Brown scored from there for the first of his three rushing TD's in the fourth. The extra point was missed by Logan Mitseff and Adrian trailed 21-6.

After a Hope punt, Adrian was helped by a pass interference call on third-and-7 from the Hope 41 which gave AC a first down. Miller completed a 15-yard pass to Danny Cobb and then Brown carried four straight times before a one-yard TD plunge with 5:14 left cut the lead to 21-13. The Adrian defense then made a huge play on Hope's second play of the ensuing drive. Jeff Makowski forced a fumble and Hunter Juntunen recovered at the Hope 44-yard line.

Adrian was faced with a third-and-15 at the Hope 23 late in the game when Miller connected with Isiah Cross for a 22-yard pass to the one-yard line. Brown then drove into the end zone and Adrian had to go for two. AC was hit with a delay of game moving them back five yards for an eight-yard try. Then there were off-setting penalties after an incomplete pass before Miller found Cross for the successful conversion to knot the game at 21-21 with 2:02 to play in regulation.

The Flying Dutchmen moved into Adrian territory on their final drive but stalled and had to punt. Adrian took over at their own 16 with 31 seconds left and could not move the ball as the teams headed into overtime. Hope won the coin toss and elected to play defense first. Adrian picked up one first down and moved the ball to the Hope 14 before Mitseff missed a 31-yard field goal wide left. Hope took over needing just a field goal and got it off the foot of Finch from 20 yards for the game winner.

Adrian was outgained 395-333 and allowed another big total on the ground yielding 186 rushing yards while carrying for 99 yards themselves. Hope converted 6-of-17 on third down while Adrian went 7-of-16. Miller finished 14-of-24 passing for 182 yards. Aaron Tenney also saw time at quarterback for Adrian and was 3-of-7 through the air for 52 yards. Atwell finished 16-of-27 for 209 yards and one TD. Dae'Von Robinson led Adrian with 59 rushing yards on 10 carries. Reggie Duncan led Hope with 85 rushing yards on 11 carries.

A.J. Gill led the Adrian defense with a career-high 16 tackles and a tackle for loss. Juntunen collected 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. Adrian finished with 11 tackles for loss and three sacks. Kyle Warren led Hope with 14 tackles and two pass breakups.