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October 30, 2011

Defiance stops Rose-Hulman

TERRE HAUTE — Held to zero yards of net rushing, Rose-Hulman lost to red-hot Defiance 21-18 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference football Saturday afternoon at Cook Stadium.

The visiting Yellow Jackets ended up with an extreme time-of-possession advantage — 40 minutes, 15 seconds for them compared to 19:45 for Rose.

“They have a great defensive front and a very good linebacking corp,” Rose-Hulman coach Jeff Sokol said of his opponents from Ohio.

“We just really struggled to run the football. We knew early on when we had the wind at our face that it was going to be tough sledding.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the Engineers jumped ahead 7-0 early in the second quarter when Mitch Snyder found Sutton Coleman in the right side of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown pass and Nick Schneider tacked on the extra point. Setting up the score was a 55-yard hookup between Snyder and Coleman two plays earlier.

About nine minutes later, Defiance tied the score on a 5-yard TD run by Joey Chester, who culminated a seven-play, 47-yard drive.

As the first half ended, Schneider booted a 28-yard field goal to put Rose ahead 10-7.

The only touchdown of the third period was a dramatic one. On fourth-and-goal from the Rose-Hulman 1, Defiance bypassed a potential chip-shot field goal and tried a run. The daring plan worked as Drew Kuesel crashed across the goal line, helping the visitors catapult on top 14-10.

Midway through the fourth frame, Defiance capped off a 10-play, 48-yard drive with a 4-yard TD burst by Kuesel.

Down 21-10, the Engineers started their next possession from their own 38-yard line. Fifteen plays and almost four minutes later, they were in the end zone on a 13-yard aerial from Snyder to Jordan Nielson. Then they converted a 2-point conversion toss from Snyder to Kyle Kovach to pull within 21-18 with 5:55 showing on the scoreboard.

The Yellow Jackets tried to run out the clock, but the home team stuffed them on a fourth-and-1 run from the Rose 28, returning possession to the Engineers with 1:47 remaining.

Rose-Hulman used nine pass plays to march upfield, allowing Schneider to attempt a 47-yard field goal, which would have been the longest of his career. But it drifted wide right and that was the ballgame.

“I’m not going to second-guess myself,” Sokol said of his decision to go for the field goal instead of trying to move the ball upfield with 30 ticks left on the clock.

“We have the best kicker in the history of Rose-Hulman football. I’ve seen him [in practice] make that kick many times and I had complete confidence that he was going to make the kick. I’d send him out there to do it again.”

In regard to kick-starting the Engineers’ slumping offense next Saturday at Anderson, Sokol said, “It would be nice to get healthy. We’ve been missing a lot of guys [with injuries].”

Coleman, a senior wide receiver, was Rose’s offensive standout Saturday, finishing with five receptions for 110 yards and the second-quarter touchdown.

“He’s got [NCAA Division III] All-American speed,” Sokol mentioned. “He can run.”

This was Defiance’s third straight victory since Nate Jensen took over as interim head coach at midseason.

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