Michael Atwell, Hope Football Team Downs North Park In Opener
Quarterback Michael Atwell threw for 442 yards and five touchdowns as the Hope College football team kicked off the 2013 season in rousing fashion with a 41-21 win at North Park (Illl.) on Saturday night.
It was the Flying Dutchmen's second consecutive win in a season opener. They beat North Park last season at home.
"It is huge," Hope coach Dean Kreps said of starting out on a winning note. "We have high expectations."
Atwell, a senior from Geneseo, Ill.., came within three passing yards of his career best — set last season in a 63-47 loss at Concordia-Chicago.. Hope's school record for passing yards in a single game belongs to Phil Butler, who had 500 against Wheaton (Ill.) in 2003.
Atwell leapt to fourth place all-time in Hope annals by reaching 4,375 career passing yards. He entered the game seventh but moved past Justin Wormmeester (3,965 between 1995-98), Joe Schwander (3,985 between 1995-98) and Chris Feys (4,118 between 2007-10).
Senior running back Shawn Jackson of Comstock Park (Comstock Park) rushed for a game-high 144 yards on 23 carries. He now has 2,273 career rushing yards, passing Tim Elzinga (2,220 between 2007-10) and Todd Holstege (2,251 between 1979-82) for sixth place all-time.
The Flying Dutchmen overcame four turnovers and injuries to two starters to win.
"We did everything possible to shoot ourselves in the foot and still overcame it," Kreps said. "They took a gamble. They wanted to take away our running game. They were able to do some things, but that also set up some big pass plays for us."
Atwell rallied Hope from a 14-3, first-quarter deficit, cutting North Park's lead to 14-13 by halftime when he connected with David Brown on a 23-yard scoring strike with 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Senior receiver Vincent Boddy of West Bloomfield (West Bloomfield HS) hauled in a 75-yard touchdown from Atwell just 3 minutes, 57 seconds into the second half. Atwell connected with junior receiver Taylor Brynaert of Washington, Mich. (Romeo) on the 2-point conversion to give Hope the lead for good at 21-14.
Boddy finished with a game-high 159 receiving yards on five matches. Brynaert had a team-high seven catches for 89 yards. Atwell completed 23-of-33 passes with one interception.
Atwell closed the scoring by connecting for touchdowns with sophomore receiver Matt Kroll of Grand Haven (Grand Haven) from 3 yards out, sophomore tight end Jake Helm of Holland (Holland) from 51 yards out and Brynaert from 28 yards.
The Flying Dutchmen posted 662 yards of total offense to North Park's 471.
The game was not without losses for the Flying Dutchmen, Kreps said. Both senior fullback Fluarry Jackson of Muskegon (Muskegon) and tight end Connor Parcell of Cadillac (Cadillac) exited the game with injuries and did not return.