ANGOLA, Ind. - For the sixth straight year the Trine University football team has started their season with a win as they defeated Manchester University 24-14 behind a 17-point second quarter.
After neither team was able to get going in the opening quarter, both sides broke the game open in the second quarter, started by a 15 play, 80 yard drive by Trine that was capped off by a two yard run from senior quarterback Ryan Hargraves (Taylor, Mich./Truman) to put the Thunder on the board first.
The Spartans would answer right back with a long drive of their own, going 19 plays and 78 yards to tie the game on four yard run by Austin Adams.
The tie game wouldn't last long though. On the ensuing kickoff, senior Myron Puryear (Canton, Mich./Plymouth) took the kick back 92 yards for his second career kickoff return for a touchdown. Trine's defense came up big on Manchester's ensuing possession forcing a three and out.
The Thunder would again drive down the field as Hargraves connected on a 16 yard pass to fellow senior JaVontae Hence (Elkhart, Ind./Concord) and then another to sophomore Luke Roush (Marion, Ind./Southern Wells) for 11 yards. Junior Tyler Keck (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Memorial) would connect on a 39 yard field goal with just 13 seconds left in the half to give the Thunder a 17-7 lead at the break.
The third quarter would again see neither team put points up on the scoreboard. Trine was able to connect on four first downs, but committed three penalties for 20 yards.
Trine opened the fourth quarter by going three and out allowing Manchester to use a short field, driving just 37 yards on six plays, capped off by an 18 yard run by the Spartan quarterback Nick Williams.
After Trine went three and out, the Thunder defense came up big again as they forced the Spartans to turn over the ball on downs after forcing an incomplete pass. This time Trine would use the short field to their advantage as they needed just 46 yards to put the game away. Hargraves would easily score his second rushing touchdown of the game on a draw play from 11 yards out. Hargraves score was setup when his pass found fellow senior Sean Collins (Fort Wayne, Ind./Northrop) for the longest play from scrimmage of the night for 29 yards.
Junior Blaek Combs (Rushville, Ind./Rushville Consolidate) put an exclamation mark on the game as he intercepted the Manchester pass on third down to run out the final seconds on the clock and secure the victory for the Thunder.
On the night Hargraves completed 13-of-23 passes for 123 yards while running for 28 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns. On the ground for the Thunder, sophomore Jared Barton (Middleton, Mich./Fulton) led the way with a game-high 73 yards on 18 carries. Hence led all receivers with seven catches for 64 yards.
On the defensive side, junior Caleb Nitz (Baroda, Mich./Lakeshore) had a game-high 12 tackles (6 solo). Fellow junior Tony Miranda (Goshen, Ind./NorthWood) recorded eight tackles while sophomore Ryan Hogan (Vine Grove, Ky./Meade County) recorded Trine's only sack of the game.
The two teams had nearly identical statistics for the night as Manchester out-gained the Thunder 259-244. The Spartans ran for 133 yards while Trine scrambled for 121. Manchester threw for three more yards than the Thunder 126-123. Trine converted 6-of-13 on third downs while going a perfect 3-3 on red-zone opportunities.
The win improves Trine to 12-6 all-time in season openers. It marks the sixth straight win against Manchester, improving their all-time record against the Spartans to 6-1.
Trine will head out on the road to Elmhurst College for the first-ever meeting between the two schools on September 8 beginning at 2:00 pm (est.).