|Gage Corner's 31-yard touchdown catch put Trine up top in the first quarter and the Thunder never relinquished the lead.
Photo by Eric Kelley, d3photography.com
NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. - For the seventh straight season the Trine University football team picked up a win in their season opener over Manchester University 19-3. Despite scoring only one offensive touchdown, the Thunder defense, which returned nine starters, showed what it could do by holding the Spartans to their fewest points in a game since 2010.
The Trine defense got things going early as senior Tony Miranda (Goshen, Ind./NorthWood) made his first career interception as Manchester was moving deep into Thunder territory on their opening drive. The Thunder used that momentum as they promptly drove down the field scoring on their opening drive going 68 yards in 10 plays. Junior Anthony Yoder (Goshen, Ind./Concord), who was making his first career start at quarterback for the Thunder, found sophomore Gage Corner (Leo, Ind./Leo) down the left sideline with 5:51 to play in the first.
Manchester would get on the board with 8:55 to play in the second quarter as they converted on a 26-yard field goal. The damage could have been worse as the Spartans had driven all the down to the Trine 4-yard-line.
Trine would answer back on the ensuing kickoff as senior Richard Gunn (Ashley, Ind./Penn) took it 83 yards down to the Manchester 9-yard-line. The Thunder would have to settle for a 31-yard field goal from senior preseason All-American Tyler Keck (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Memorial) to take a 10-3 lead into halftime.
On their second procession of the second half, the Thunder went 58 yards as Keck notched his second field goal of the night, this time a 22-yard connection.
The Thunder defense would again come up big as sophomore Charles Dreessen (Walkerton, Ind./John Glenn) recovered a Manchester fumble on their following possession. The Thunder again looked to Keck as he converted from 36 yards this time to give Trine a 16-3 lead with just 40 seconds left in the third quarter.
After forcing another punt, the Trine defense held the Spartans again as they went for it on fourth down allowing just five yards on the drive. The Thunder would use the short 21-yard field to allow Keck to connect on his fourth field goal of the night hitting again from 36 yards to increase the lead by the final margin of 19-3.
With 3:47 to play, the Thunder defense held strong again as they forced a three incomplete passes on the Manchester possession to again force them to turn the ball over on downs. Trine had one final chance to put points on the scoreboard but the 38-yard attempt from Keck was blocked.
Manchester took possession with 1:14 to play but time ran out as the Thunder secured their seventh straight win over the Spartans, all of which have come on opening day.
Keck's four field goals (31, 25, 36 and 36 yards) set a new Trine record, breaking the previous mark of three which he shared with former players Jeremy Howard, Justin Hoover and Wyatt Brown.
Yoder finished his first game under center completing 14-of-21 for 144 yards and a touchdown. Yoder also finished with 26 yards on the ground on 12 carries. Junior Austin J. Shoemaker (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North) led the Thunder ground attack finishing the night with 87 yards on 19 carries while Gunn had 73 yards on 13 touches. Yoder's top target on the night was Shoemaker who finished with six catches for 36 yards. Sophomore Travis Durham (Marion, Ind./Mississinewa) led the Thunder with 47 receiving yards in his first college game on four receptions.
Defensively, seniors Derek Posey (Newark, Ohio/Utica) and Caleb Nitz (Baroda, Mich./Lakeshore) led the team with nine tackles each. Fellow senior Blaek Combs (Rushville, Ind./Rushville Consolidate) added seven.
Trine finished the night with 334 yards of total offense compared to 269 for the Spartans. The Thunder also held a time of possession advantage 33:40-to-26:20.
The three points allowed by the Thunder defense were the fewest in a season opener since shutting out Albion 38-0 back on Sept. 14, 2002. It was also the fewest points they have ever allowed in a season opener on the road. It was also the fewest points the Spartans offense were held to in a game since also scoring just three points back on Oct. 16, 2010 against Franklin
Trine will now open their home schedule when they host Elmhurst on Sept. 14 at 1:00 p.m.