GREENCASTLE, Ind. - Trine ( AFCA #8/d3football.com 14th) scored four first-quarter touchdowns but had to hold on to oust Depauw 45-35 in the first round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs Saturday.
Depauw (18th AFCA) advanced to Trine's 26 yard-line, before the Thunder ended the threat late in the fourth quarter. Brandon Killingbeck (Poneto, Ind./Southern Wells) picked off a Depauw pass with three-minutes remaining and preserved the 45-35 win.
Trine finished with 419 yards of total offense, including 80 yards on the ground. Depauw finished with 437 yards.
Eric Watt (Kentland, Ind./South Newton) connected on 20-of-30 passing for 339 yards with three touchdowns. Watt also ran eight times for 38 yards and one touchdown. Ja Vontae Hence (Elkhart, Ind./Concord) finished with eight receptions for 169 yards and two scores, including a 59-yard aerial that put Trine up 35-28.
After falling behind 27-7, the host Tigers rallied scoring 21 unanswered points to take a 28-27 lead with 5:08 to play in the third quarter. Trine (11-0, 6-0 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association) sealed the win outscoring Depauw 19-7 in the final 17 minutes.
Jacob Vance (Fenton, Mich/Lake Fenton) tallied seven stops. Aaron Selking (Decatur, Ind./Adams Central) had six tackles and a sack. Killingbeck (Poneto, Ind./Southern Wells) and Andrew Pickford (Adrian, Mich./Sand Creek) both recorded five tackles and key second-half interceptions.
The Thunder will now travel to top-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater, the defending national champ, Saturday November 27 at Noon (Central). The Warhawks advanced with a 52-21 win over Franklin.