The top two teams in the MIAA preseason poll kicked off the conference season on Saturday and the game lived up to the top billing as Adrian College defeated Hope College, 17-14, in Holland. The Bulldogs beat the Flying Dutchmen for the fifth time in the last six meetings and extended their season win streak to four games after a season-opening loss to Pacific (Ore.).
The Flying Dutchmen entered the game as the top offense in the MIAA averaging 489.5 yards per game. The Adrian defense did a fantastic job in the pass game limiting Hope quarterback to 4-of-25 passing for 34 yards and an interception. Hope did a good job moving the ball on the ground however as Shawn Jackson rushed for 251 yards and a pair of scores. Hope finished with 277 total yards and averaged just 4.9 yards per play. The Adrian offense continues to evolve each week and gained 374 yards including a balance of 200 on the ground and 174 in the air.
The teams traded possessions early in the game before Adrian struck quickly with 5:52 left in the first quarter. Adrian scored on the first play of their third drive as Aaron Tenney tossed a 56-yard touchdown to Nathan Hartline to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead. Hope finished the first quarter with 61 rushing yards and were 0-of-10 passing.
Adrian added to their lead at the 3:15 mark of the second quarter on a 14-play, 64-yard drive that used 7:41. Dustin Salliotte booted a 22-yard field goal to extend the lead to 10-0. The Bulldogs pitched a shutout in the first half and finally allowed Hope to get on the board at the 4:04 mark in the third quarter. Jackson rumbled 67 yards for a touchdown and Evan Finch kicked the extra point to cut the lead to 10-7.
Adrian crossed midfield on their first two drives of the fourth quarter but could not add to their lead. The Bulldogs took possession with 5:25 left in the game and delivered the game-winning score. Tenney and Hartline hooked up again on a 49-yard touchdown on the first play of their third drive in the quarter to extend the lead to 17-7.
The Flying Dutchmen had an answer however as Jackson ran for 56 yards on the next play after the kickoff to put Hope at the Adrian 25-yard line. The Bulldogs were whistled for a personal foul face mask on the play moving the ball to the 12-yard line. Three plays later, Jackson plunged in from one-yard out with 3:21 left to cut the lead to 17-14.
Hope elected to kick the ball deep with all three timeouts remaining, but Adrian would not give up the ball and run out the clock. The Bulldogs got two first downs including an 11-yard run by Dae'Von Robinson on third-and-2 at the Hope 49-yard line. The ball was fumbled on the run but Hartline jumped on it to preserve the victory. Damon Brown carried 28 times for 142 yards marking his third straight 100-yard effort. Hartline set a new career-best with 128 receiving yards. Tenney was 10-of-17 passing for 174 yards and no interceptions.
Charles Fleck led the defense with eight tackles. Adrian accumulated five sacks for a loss of 27 yards and Curtis Rhoden had an interception off Michael Atwell and two pass breakups. The Bulldogs host Alma College next Saturday with kickoff set for 4 p.m.