By John Regenfuss
Final score: 105-0. That’s right, no mistakes, no kidding ... 105-0.
While it is nearly impossible to fathom for anyone who has played, coached, been a fan of, or even ever watched a quarter of football, that was indeed the actual score of a Division III contest from Week 1 of the 2003 season. Rockford, playing at home, torched Trinity Bible College of Ellendale, N.D., by that unprecedented margin.
To put this offensive achievement into some perspective, of the other 90 Division III games played in Week 1, just one (Cornell 63, Colorado College 43) featured a game in which more points were scored by both teams combined.
The Regents’ scoring mark, not surprisingly, broke the 26-year-old Division III single-game scoring record previously held by Concordia-Moorhead (97 points vs. Macalester).
The statistics compiled throughout the game were mind-boggling. The Regents scored on 15 of its 18 offensive possessions, totaling 556 yards, including 482 rushing yards. Senior running back Marcus Howard carried 28 times for 334 yards (11.9 yds./rush) and scored five touchdowns. Backmate Isaac Holloway rushed the ball just four times but rolled up 78 yards and notched four touchdowns. The Regents threw the ball just twice, scoring on both plays. Defensively, Rockford tallied 17 tackles for loss, limited Trinity to 14 yards of total offense (including minus-34 yards rushing), and returned three interceptions for touchdowns.
The rout allowed Rockford’s backups to get live game experience, as every available player on the roster saw playing time. The contest also featured what could be described as the closest thing to a sanctioned mercy rule. The game clock ran nonstop beginning at the midway point of the third quarter.
"It was unbelievable," said head coach Mike Hoskins. "I've never seen a game like this before. You hate to see a score get like that but when you play all of your people and don't even throw the football there's not much else you can do. You still have to have your players prepare and get in their 'reps' to make sure you're sharp for the next game."
Hoskins and his staff will undoubtedly draw some heavy criticism for the game’s outcome and their coaching practices during the game will most likely receive intense scrutiny. However, I am not sure what recourse Hoskins had. Should he have told his players to not try as hard or to run out of bounds or fall down if breaking free for a potential touchdown? The easy and correct answer is “no”. Asking players to lighten up only invites injury and instructing them to take an obvious dive is even more insulting than “running up” the score.
The most readily apparent and simple solution would have been to end the game. If the coaches agreed to initiate a running clock in the third quarter, calling the game must have been a topic of discussion and a distinct possibility. My feeling is that Trinity Bible willfully chose to continue the game. Even if the subject of stopping play was never broached, Trinity’s head coach could have requested it to be done at any time. What’s more embarrassing, getting beat by 105 points or quitting? Credit Trinity Bible for choosing the former and for its players for not giving up.
What will Rockford do for encore? That burning question will be answered this Saturday when the Regents head to Milwaukee to meet Wisconsin Lutheran of the MIAA. A year ago, the Warriors knocked off RC, 21-14, in Rockford. WLC was a week one, 33-13 loser to I-AA Valparaiso. For those morbidly curious enough to want to know what lies ahead for Trinity, the Lions will play host to Haskell Indian Nations University of Lawrence, Kan., an NAIA school, in Week 2.
What makes the extraordinary turn of events associated with this blowout even more distinctive was that the game was Hoskins’ first as head coach of the Rockford Regents.
Hoskins wasn’t the only coach to experience a shock in his head coaching debut. Jeff Judge of Anderson too was waylaid by the outcome of his team’s opener, although I am sure the feelings he had after his first game walking the Macholtz Stadium sidelines could hardly be described as elation or delight. Playing at home, the Ravens were ambushed by Capital of the powerful OAC, 65-13. Anderson, coming off a 7-3 season and expected to be a top contender for the HCAC title, managed just 21 yards rushing while allowing 161 on the ground. The Crusaders also kept quarterback Joel Steele, the two-time HCAC Offensive Player of the Year, in relative check. Steele completed only 50% of his passes and was picked off twice. Judge did get an outstanding performance from tight end Klint Rupley, as the junior snagged a career-high 10 passes for 115 yards and was on the receiving end of the Ravens’ two lone touchdowns. Anderson does have plenty of time to fix what is broken with three consecutive non-conference games yet to be played in the month ahead before the HCAC schedule begins. AU will try to get into the win column next week on the road versus archrival Taylor University in the annual Wagon Wheel game.
La Crossed Out
Easily the most impressive showing from the season’s first weekend of action by a Midwest region team was posted by UW-La Crosse. The Eagles, ranked No. 15 in the D3football.com preseason poll, completely dominated a visiting No. 5-ranked Howard Payne squad, shutting out the Yellow Jackets, 42-0. A 35-point second quarter that included three interception returns for touchdowns, a punishing running game, and an efficient outing by quarterback Steve Tennies provided La Crosse with the tools for victory. Safety Ken Halverson (40 yds.), cornerback Josh Otto (59 yds.), and defensive end Matt Buelow (15 yds.) proved clutch for the Eagles, accounting for the interceptions and the returns. Andrew Macadlo and Matt Pagel combined for 143 rushing yards on 23 carries. Pagel scored on a 44-yard jaunt in the second quarter. Tennies, making his first collegiate start, was 13-for-15 passing for 150 yards and one touchdown. Though the WIAC season is still two weeks away for La Crosse, it appears that the promise it has shown early solidifies it as a top contender for the 2003 conference crown and as a major player on the national scene. La Crosse, now positioned eighth in the national polls, will try to best its opening effort on the road versus Illinois Wesleyan in Week 2.
The WIAC started the 2003 season strong in the face of its signature tough non-conference schedule, going 4-2 in Week 1 — two of its wins came against ranked foes and one against an NAIA Division I team while the two losses were to Mount Union, the No. 1 team in the nation, and Chadron State, a Division II opponent … UW-Stevens Point quarterback Scott Krause orchestrated a late drive, capped off by a 29-yard scoring pass to Cory Childs, to help the Pointers down Augustana, 19-15 … UW-Oshkosh gained 472 yards of offense while limiting Division II newcomer Upper Iowa to just 141 in its 38-3 win … North Park matched its 2002 win total after just one week of the 2003 season, downing Greenville 24-17 … &&Mt. St. Joseph&& running back Ricky Story rolled up 213 yards rushing, scored four touchdowns, and caught a team-high five passes in the Lions 26-12 come-from-behind victory over Wilmington … Manchester gave defending IBFC champion MacMurray all it could handle in its opening-week matchup, outgaining the Highlanders 257-162, but fell, 10-6 … Illinois College had a 417-109 advantage in offensive yardage in its 26-0 blanking of in-state opponent Blackburn … All-American defensive back Joe Masciopinto recorded a clutch interception in St. Norbert’s 21-19 win over St. Thomas …Ripon used three rushing touchdowns from Nick Marcelle and 120 yards receiving by Tim Roehrig to get pastGrinnell 26-21, and take an early lead in the MWC standings … Beloit rushed for 335 yards (including two 100-yard rushers in Scott Weber and Jon Dupuis) while holding Macalester to just 32 in the Buccaneers’ 46-19 drubbing of the Scots.
Games of the Week (all times Central)
Hardin-Simmons (0-0) at UW-Stout (0-0), 1 p.m., Menomonie, Wis.: For the second consecutive week an ASC favorite makes a lengthy foray north to take on a WIAC power. Last week, the WIAC won the day, as No. 15 UW-LaCrosse dismantled 5th-ranked Howard Payne, 42-0. This intra-region clash will feature a clash of potent offenses. The No. 12 Blue Devils return all 11 starters from the WIAC’s top offense in 2002 while the No. 15 Cowboys boast a deep and talented pool of potential contributors at the skill positions. It’s also the D3football.com Game of the Week broadcast
St. Norbert (1-0) at Beloit (1-0), 1:30 p.m., Beloit, Wis.
Beloit, 5-4 in the MWC a year ago, will look to begin to re-establish itself as a conference heavyweight, as it plays host to league powerhouse St. Norbert in a critical early-season Midwest Conference matchup. A year ago the Green Knights thumped the Buccaneers, 51-32, in DePere. The St. Norbert offense has feasted on the Beloit defense in recent years, scoring 51, 56, 47, and 35 points, in its previous four meetings. Beloit last defeated St. Norbert in 1998 (27-24).
Augustana (0-1) at Central (0-0), 1:00 p.m., Pella, Iowa
The Vikings receive GOTW notoriety for the second consecutive week, as they head away from home for the first time this season to take on Central of the IIAC. In week one, No. 24 Augustana was edged by No. 21 UW-Stevens Point, 19-15. Despite the setback, the Viking defense was stout versus the Pointers, holding them to just 78 rushing yards. The Dutch, coming off an 8-2 2002 campaign, will be in action for the first time this season. Central, ranked 23rd in the nation, features experience at the quarterback position and along the offensive line but have questions about a defensive squad depleted by graduation. Last year, Augustana hammered Central 34-14 at home.
Hanover (1-0) at Thomas More (0-1), 1:30 p.m. ET, Crestview Hills, Ky.
Hanover makes its second consecutive non-conference road trip to start the 2003 season, as the Panthers travel to meet independent Thomas More. The Saints, 7-3 a year ago, need a win to right the ship after a bad home loss to Muskingum (3-7 in 2002) in their opener. Hanover quarterback Brett Dietz (31-50, 363 yds., 4 touchdowns) led the No. 17 Panthers to their tenth-straight opening season victory last week with a 34-17 win over Urbana. Saints’ trigger-man Nate Berkley threw for 385 yards and tossed four touchdown passes but four turnovers and six sacks hampered the TMC cause.
Concordia (Wis.) (1-0) at UW-Oshkosh (1-0), 1:00 p.m. Oshkosh, Wis.
This non-conference, interstate battle features a matchup between two squads that led off the season with impressive wins. Concordia routed Carroll 63-0, while Oshkosh knocked off Upper Iowa 38-3 in Week 1. The Titans used exceptional performances from running back Andrew Stern (15 rushes, 142 yards) and defensive end Jason Boehlke (three sacks, three tackles for loss) to get past the Peacocks. In last season’s meeting, Oshkosh downed Concordia 35-25.