ADRIAN, Mich. – The Adrian College football team was looking for payback on Saturday (Oct. 4) night as they welcomed Olivet College for their homecoming game. The Comets defeated the Bulldogs late in the game last year at Docking Stadium and once again found a way to defeat Adrian with a late fumble which they quickly turned into the game-winning touchdown.
Adrian held a 21-20 lead when they took over the ball at their own 20-yard line with 3:57 to play. The Bulldogs were whistled for a holding penalty on the first play and backed up to their 10-yard line. On the next play, a toss running play to the left was mishandled and the Comets jumped on the ball at the two-yard line. One play later, Damorria Lilly scampered into the end zone from two yards to give Olivet a 26-21 lead. Braden Black then found Dominik Givens all alone in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 28-21 lead.
The Bulldogs used a short kickoff to start their final drive at their own 39-yard line. Adrian converted a first down to midfield and then were faced with a fourth-and-two at the Olivet 42-yard line. Aaron Tenney has his pass intercepted by Zachary Gropp at the Olivet 33-yard line to seal the win for the Comets.
Olivet took an early 7-0 lead at the 6:49 mark of the opening quarter on a short field taking over at the Adrian 26-yard line. Three plays later, Black threw an eight-yard slant pattern to a wide open Jason Barbosa for the game's first score. The combo would not be done as they finished with three touchdowns on the night. Black and Barbosa connected on a 44-yard strike with 7:59 left in the second quarter and then on a fade route to the right pylon from three yards out with 7:39 left in the third quarter. Black completed 13-for-28 for 174 yards for the evening and Barbosa caught seven passes for 105 yards.
Adrian's scoring began with 1:06 left in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7. Tenney surged behind the offensive line on a sneak for a two-yard score capping off a seven-play, 50-yard drive that used 3:05. Olivet took a 20-7 lead midway through the third quarter before the Bulldogs started to make a comeback. Emmanuel Stewart got Adrian within 20-14 on an 18-yard touchdown run with 5:34 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs then took the lead with 10:05 left in the game as Nathan Hartline caught a 12-yard scoring pass on a nice throw to the back right pylon by Tenney.
The Bulldog defense stopped the Comets on two drives in the fourth quarter before the costly fumble which led to the winning score. The team's offense did not establish a great rhythm gaining 246 yards on 68 plays. Olivet gained 317 total yards including 143 on the ground against the second-ranked rushing defense in NCAA Division III allowing 36.3 yards through the first three games. Adrian finished 4-of-13 on third down and one of the biggest stats of the game was Olivet's starting field position of their own 43-yard line.
Tenney finished 12-of-33 for 117 yards and was sacked just once. Stewart rushed 14 times for 57 yards. Hartline caught seven passes for 62 yards. Adrian's defense recorded three sacks for a loss of 26 yards. Jack Carter, Damon Fuller and Tommy First each had a sack. Charles Fleck led the defense with 13 tackles and recovered a fumble at the one-yard line to stall an Olivet drive. Juwan King was credited with 11 tackles from his linebacker spot. The Bulldogs are now 3-1 overall and 0-1 in the MIAA and will travel to Alma College next Saturday (Oct. 11) for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff against the Scots (2-2, 0-1 MIAA).