CINCINNATI, Ohio – Defiance College notched its third victory over Mount St. Joseph in the past four meetings with a 23-13 triumph over the Lions on Saturday. The Jackets used a pair of takebacks to secure the victory, with the first and final strikes of the afternoon coming on touchdown returns.
Tony Sierra got things started for Defiance with an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter. The return lifted the Jackets to a 7-0 edge with 6:19 remaining in the first period and set a new DC record, by besting the previous mark of 81 yards set by Dustin Winkler against MSJ in 2001.
After the Mount cut the lead to one point on the ensuing possession, Defiance bumped the spread to 10-6 on a 23-yard field goal off the foot of Spencer Saunders with 14:10 left to play in the second quarter.
The score would remain there until the fourth period, when the Lions claimed the lead with a six-play, 83-yard scoring march that gave the hosts their first lead of the afternoon at 13-10 with 14:27 showing on the clock.
Rick Powell brought the Jackets back on the very next touch however, spurring a 72-yard drive by following a seven-yard completion to Jon Carrabino with a 16-yard scamper to the MSJ 44-yard line. Powell then handed the ball to Terrance Plummer for a trio of rushes spanning 24 yards, before calling his own number on a 22-yard sprint to pay dirt for the 16-13 DC advantage.
Another key return would open up a 10-point spread just over one minute later, as Gregg Pickett intercepted a pass and ran it back 32 yards for another Yellow Jacket score. The touchdown and ensuing point-after from Saunders gave Defiance a 23-13 lead that it would not relinquish over the final 9:07 of action.
The play of DC's defense and special teams proved pivotal in the victory, as the Jackets averaged nearly 30 yards per kickoff return and just under 50 per punt return, highlighted by Sierra's record-setting 84-yard strike to open the scoring.
Matt Oliver also excelled by averaging 41 yards per punt in six tries, including a 60-yard boot and three kicks inside the MSJ 20-yard line.
The Yellow Jacket defense allowed a season-high 278 yards on the ground but countered by limiting MSJ to only 93 yards through the air on 11-of-27 passing. The Purple and Gold also hauled in three interceptions to keep the Lions at bay.
Pickett provided the gem with the 32-yard interception return for a score, while Chrys Killebrew also hauled in a MSJ pass and Kyle Keegan ended the Mount's final possession of the game with a pick. Hunter Robertson led the defense with 10 tackles, while Josh Slayton posted seven stops and D.J. Brigham picked up a sack.
Powell paced the offense in his return to the starting lineup at the quarterback spot by completing 13-of-26 passes for 87 yards and racking up 96 yards on the ground over 11 carries. Powell averaged 8.7 yards per rush, to go with one touchdown.
Defiance (1-4, 1-2 HCAC) will look to even its mark in HCAC action on October 15, when it returns home to welcome Earlham (0-6, 0-4 HCAC) at 1:30 pm.