ANDERSON, Ind. – Drew Kuesel found the end zone three times in the first half on Saturday and powered in for a fourth time in the final minute of the game to lift the Yellow Jackets to a thrilling, 28-21, win against the Ravens. The victory was DC's third in a row and its seventh-straight triumph over Anderson.
Defiance has dominated the rivalry since 2005, winning all seven meetings by an average of 32 points per outing. The past two clashes have been influenced heavily by the legs of Kuesel, who followed a three touchdown performance in last year's 49-7 victory with a four touchdown effort on Saturday.
The senior running back had a season-high 161 rushing yards on 23 attempts, to go along with a career-high four touchdowns. Kuesel averaged 7.0 yards per rush en route to his fifth 100-yard game of his career and his first four scores of the year. Kuesel has now rushed for 19 touchdowns during his time with the Purple and Gold.
Kuesel's breakout afternoon started early, with 112 yards and three touchdowns coming before the intermission to fuel a 21-7 start for Defiance. The early lead evaporated over the course of the second half however, as Anderson slowed the Yellow Jacket attack and held DC scoreless until the final minute of the game.
Anderson capitalized on the scoring drought by converting on a fourth-down play on the first snap of the fourth quarter and found pay dirt three plays later to draw within 21-14 with 13:19 left in the contest. The Ravens then forced a quick punt from Defiance and marched down the field once again to knot the score at 21-21 with 7:31 to play.
Another DC drive ended quickly, as Anderson recovered a fumble on the second play of the Jackets' ensuing drive. The turnover led to a 39-yard field goal attempt from the Ravens that sailed just outside the posts to keep the score gridlocked.
Defiance then took over on its own 22-yard lined with 5:17 on the clock and turned back to Kuesel for a spark on the final possession. The Patrick Henry High product responded, carrying the ball seven times for 40 yards, but the big strike came with Rick Powell hitting Nick Wiedenhoft over the middle for a 34-yard reception on a pivotal third-down snap.
Kuesel took over from there, running the ball on four-straight snaps, with the final effort resulting in a four-yard touchdown scamper that put Defiance on top, 28-21, with 49 ticks left on the clock.
Anderson flirted with yet another rally, returning the following kickoff to its own 47-yard marker. The Purple and Gold had one final answer though, as Tony Sierra iced the Defiance victory by hauling in a deflected AU pass with 17 seconds remaining.
Despite the highlight showing from Kuesel, the Jackets still turned in a balanced attack with 192 yards on the ground and 182 through the air. Kuesel was the story, ending with 161 rushing yards and four scores, while Powell added 182 yards on 11 completions through the air and Wiedenhoft caught six of those passes for 111 yards.
Hunter Robertson paced the DC defensive unit with 14 tackles, including 10 solo stops and one hit for lost yardage. Patrick McDonald also chipped in with seven tackles and three for lost yardage and Sierra added seven hits and the game-ending interception.
Defiance climbed to 3-2 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference with the victory and moved to 3-4 overall. The Jackets will try to stay in the win column on October 29, when they play at Rose-Hulman (3-4, 3-2 HCAC) in a 1:30 pm start.