TERRE HAUTE —
Senior quarterback Ryan Landwehr ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, Jake Dye caught 11 passes and Rose-Hulman’s defense held Hanover scoreless until fourth-quarter garbage time as the Engineers posted a 38-14 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference football victory before the late-afternoon storm hit Saturday at Cook Stadium.
Third-year Rose coach Jeff Sokol described the dominant win as “probably the best all-around game that we’ve played since I’ve been here.”
“I’m really pleased with our performance in all aspects,” he continued. “The special teams were great. The offense didn’t turn the ball over. The defense created turnovers.”
The Engineers opened the scoring midway through the first quarter after safety Chris Sander intercepted a pass by Hanover quarterback Dexter Britt, giving them possession at their own 21-yard line. From there, they needed 11 plays to reach paydirt on Danya Francis’ 1-yard run.
Early in the second period, Rose-Hulman increased its lead to 14-0 on a 1-yard TD run by Landwehr. He added a 3-yard touchdown run later in the same frame, boosting the home team’s advantage to 21-0 by halftime.
Matt Angel padded the Engineers’ cushion to 24-0 early in the third quarter by booting a 25-yard field goal.
As Hanover marched into Rose territory late in the third period, safety Anthony Adamo stepped in front of the intended receiver to pick off a Britt pass and raced 60 yards down the left sideline to the opposite end zone to increase help increase his team’s margin to 31-0.
In the opening minute of the fourth quarter, Hanover finally scored on a 22-yard aerial from Britt to Layne Taylor.
But the Engineers later countered with another TD of their own as Landwehr found Aaron Abbott alone in the far-left side of the end zone from 4 yards out.
A 5-yard TD toss from Britt to Austin Pfenninger closed the scoring with 2:23 remaining as dark skies threatened to drench the field, players and fans at any moment.
“I was getting [weather] updates periodically,” Sokol mentioned. “I knew it was coming in and things had to get moving. Once we got the defensive score [late in the third quarter], we were just trying to get out of Dodge. We figured we had a comfortable enough lead by then. We just wanted to run it out.”
When the game ended, both teams high-tailed it to the nearby Sports and Recreation Center to avoid the heavy rains.
From there, Sokol praised his players and coaching staff.
“I think this was Ryan’s best game of the season,” he said of Landwehr. “He did a great job of throwing the ball. We even had drops. I’m sure his completion percentage was really high [73.0], but it should have been higher. … I think he made great decisions. He took care of the football tremendously for the third week in a row. He played great.”
Asked about Dye’s performance, Sokol replied: “Jake did a great job of getting open and made most of the plays that came his way.”
The Engineers’ coach continued the lovefest by talking about his defense.
“Those kids played really hard,” he emphasized. “I know they were really disappointed when they gave up the shutout. I know they wanted it. … [Adamo’s interception return for a touchdown] was a huge play. He’s had a great season for us so far.
“We had [defensive] pressure on Dexter Britt all day. We just kept coming at him and coming at him. Our goal was to make his day very, very long.”
Sokol credited Rose-Hulman defensive coordinator Brian Vaughn with formulating a scheme that worked to near-perfection against Hanover.
“Every week, he puts our guys into a position where they’re going to have a chance to be successful,” Sokol added. “He knows our opponents and he gets our guys in a position to make plays.”
Next it was the offensive linemen’s turn to receive compliments from Sokol.
“Those kids up front did a tremendous job all day,” he stressed. “We’ve only given up one sack since the season opener [Sept. 7 at Kalamazoo]. … We could run the football, pass without much concern about pressure. Those kids do a great job of getting themselves prepared.”
With Saturday’s triumph, the Engineers (3-2 overall) assured themselves of at least a tie atop the HCAC standings at 3-0. Mount St. Joseph entered Saturday at 2-0 with a night game at winless Anderson. The other 2-0 team coming into Saturday — defending conference champion Franklin — had the weekend off.
Although Sokol enjoyed hearing about the Engineers’ place in the standings, he made it clear that’s not what he’ll be thinking about in the coming days.
“Our focus is entirely on Bluffton [next Saturday’s opponent], a team we have failed to beat the last two years,” he pointed out. “We lost to them in triple overtime last year [37-34], so we’re focused on those guys.
“We’ll worry about what the standings say at the end of the year, but we’re happy where we’re at.”