HANOVER, Ind. – Rick Powell accounted for 309 of DC's 352 total yards of offense and scored a pair of touchdowns on Saturday to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 24-10 win at Hanover College in their 2010 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener.
Powell fueled an injury depleted Defiance offense all afternoon by averaging 9.8 yards per rush, en route to 195 total yards and a pair of scores on the ground. Powell's efforts sparked a dominant rushing attack for the Purple and Gold, as DC netted 6.8 yards per carry as a team and piled up a season-high 238 yards on the ground.
The passing attack also had its best showing of 2010, as Powell connected on 17-of-24 attempts for 114 yards. Andy Cessna caught six of those passes for 50 yards, while Nick Wiedenhoft and Drew Kuesel each hauled in a trio of catches.
The Defiance defensive unit was also up to the challenge, holding a high-flying Hanover offense to half of its 2010 scoring average with just 10 points. Kyle Longsdorf led the way once again, piling up 15 tackles to bring his team-leading total for the season to 40. Pat McDonald also cracked double figures with 12 tackles, while adding four stops for lost yardage and Eric Rubio, Joemese Scott and Hunter Robertson each chipped in seven hits.
Tom Foos rounded out the all-around effort from Defiance, as the senior averaged 46.8 yards per punt, connected on a 37-yard field goal and split the uprights on each of his three point-after attempts on the afternoon.
Foos helped get things going for DC by booming a 70-yard punt midway through the opening quarter to flip the field on the Panthers. The Jackets would capitalize two drives later, as Powell broke the scoreless tie with a 71-yard sprint to the end zone to lift Defiance to the 7-0 advantage with 3:00 minutes left in the opening period.
Defiance struck again on its first series of the second half, churning out a 13-play drive that spanned 48 yards and ate over seven minutes off the clock. The drive was extended on a key fourth-down conversion, when Powell hooked up with Kuesel on a six-yard completion that was followed by a 10-yard rush from Kuesel to move the Jackets into field goal range. Foos then dialed it up from 37 yards out to give DC the 10-7 lead.
A 26-yard field goal from Hanover would knot the score at 10-10, but Defiance took control over the final 19 minutes of action and used a one-yard run from Kuesel on the opening play of the fourth frame to grab the lead for good at 17-10.
The Panthers tried to answer by driving to the DC 14-yard line, only to be turned away on a fourth down attempt. Hanover passed on the field goal opportunity to attempt a throw but Austin Hedderly forced the crucial incompletion, ending the 66-yard drive and handing the ball back to Powell and the Yellow Jacket offense.
The junior signal caller kept the pressure on the reeling Panthers, rattling off a 47-yard rush to ignite the rally. Powell then delivered the dagger with a 17-yard scoot to pay dirt for the 24-10 cushion with 6:58 left in the game.
Hanover would have two more chances to fight back but failed to convert on either. HC would turn the ball over on downs once again, before having its final chance stripped away on a forced fumble by Quayshawn Littlejohn and scooped up by Robertson to seal the victory.
Defiance (1-2, 1-0 HCAC) will host Franklin (2-1, 1-0 HCAC) on Saturday, September 25 at 1:30 pm. The game will be DC's first home game of the 2010 campaign and will be webcast live on the Yellow Jacket Sports Network.