ANGOLA, Ind. - In the annual MIAA/NACC Football Challenge, Trine University and Concordia (WI) University lit up the scoreboard in every which way imaginable, as the teams combined for 88 points and 848 yards of total offense as the Thunder (3-0) earned a 47-41 victory.
It was a signature game for Thunder junior quarterback Andrew Dee (McComb, Ohio/McComb), who in his first career start, threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns while the dominant ground game continued to roll, racking up 212 yards on the day. It was the third game in a row in which the Thunder rushing attack exceeded 200 yards. Concordia's (1-2) aerial assault put up 348 yards and five touchdowns was bogged down by three turnovers from quarterback Austin Damaschke.
Senior running back Richard Gunn (Ashley, Ind./Penn) would be featured prominently by the Thunder on their first offensive possession of the game, rushing six times and catching a pass to account for 37 of the 48 yards capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run. Concordia countered with a heavy dose of Damaschke to 6'6'' wide receiver Garett Wenselburger, completing four straight passes to him and the touchdown as the Falcons tied the game at 7-7 midway through the first.
After a big run back by sophomore Preston Pinrod (North Manchester, Ind./Manchester) on the ensuing kickoff, Dee hit sophomore wide receiver Gage Corner (Leo, Ind./Leo) on a third-and-13 for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Trine got the ball back after Damaschke fumbled with 34 seconds in the first, junior running back Austin Shoemaker (Huntington, Ind./Huntington North) carried the load on this drive, running six times for 12 yards before senior Tyler Keck (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Memorial) connected on a 30-yard field goal to make it 17-7. After a quick series by the Falcons, Trine embarked on a 7 minute, 17 play, 94 yard drive. Dee was at his best, completing passes to five different receivers and showing a steady pocket presence as Shoemaker capped the drive with a one yard touchdown run.
Up 24-7 and smelling blood in the water, Trine rolled the dice with an onside kick and recovered. The Thunder going for the knockout but Concordia defensive lineman DeShawn Pullen made a spectacular catch, intercepting a quick screen pass and brought it all the way back to the Thunder nine. A quick strike from Damaschke to Wenselberger for nine yards made it 24-14 at the half.
After the first few drives of the third quarter, the Falcons would score again as Damaschke again found Wenselberger to make it 24-21 Trine. Sparked by Shoemaker's 44 yard catch-and-run at the beginning of their next series, Trine overcame two holding penalties to eventually punch it in again with Shoemaker from the 1-yard-line and extend the lead to 10 heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter brought with it plenty of fireworks, as the teams combined for 36 points. The scoring would begin after Concordia maneuvered their way downfield and finished with another passing touchdown. Trine blocked the point after attempt, as junior Tyler Guzy (Coldwater, Mich./Coldwater) scooped up the rolling loose ball and at the last possible second lateraled to senior Derek Posey (Newark, Ohio/Utica) at the 35 yard line. Posey turned on the jets and outraced every Falcon to the end zone for an exhilarating two points.
Trine aired it out on the next drive, as juniors Jared Barton (Middleton, Mich./Fulton) and Zach Hess (Eagle, Mich./Grand Ledge) combined for every catch, including a 44-yard Dee to Hess connection for the touchdown to make it 40-27. After a short series by Concordia, Trine would make it 47-27 as Shoemaker's final carry of the game went for his third touchdown from eight yards out.
Although the Falcons would rally within six, 47-41, with less than a minute to play, the Thunder recovered the ensuing onside kick allowing them to run out the clock. Trine finished with 495 total yards of offense as they put together their best and most balanced offensive performance of the season.
It was the first time this season that the Thunder have scored multiple offensive touchdowns in a game, after scoring just one in each of the first two games.
The Thunder hit the road on Sept. 28 to take on St. Joseph's (IN) in their last non-conference game at 1 p.m. (CST.).