ANGOLA, Indiana - The Hope College football team saw its five-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday as Trine University defeated the Flying Dutchmen, 50-14, in a showdown for first place in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
The loss dropped Hope into second place in the MIAA at 3-1 in conference play, 5-2 overall, while the unbeaten and nationally ranked Thunder improved to 3-0 in the MIAA and 7-0 overall.
Trine jumped on the Dutchmen from the outset, scoring on four of its first five possessions to build up a 27-0 lead early in the second quarter in front of an enthusiastic Zollner Stadium crowd of 4,900.
Hope got on the board midway through the second quarter, putting together a 75-yard, nine-play drive. Sophomore quarterback Mason Opple of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville HS), capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge to cut the Trine lead to 27-7 with 9:34 left in the first half.
After forcing a three-and-out on Trine's next possession, Hope drove 75 yards in seven plays to pull even closer. On fourth down from the Thunder 2, Opple muscled his way into the end zone for his second touchdown of the day. The extra point from senior kicker Darren Ford of Howell, Michigan (Howell HS) whittled the deficit to 27-14 with 5:14 to play in the half.
However, the Thunder struck for two scores – a 40-yard field goal by Ryan Hibbets and a 50-yard touchdown strike from Evan Wyse to Jeffrey Barnett – in a 37-second span late in the first half to open up a 36-14 halftime lead. Wyse threw three TD passes and ran for a fourth to lead the Trine offense.
Trine added two rushing touchdowns in the third quarter for the final margin of victory.
Hope committed four turnovers in the game, losing three fumbles and throwing an interception. Hope was limited to 86 rushing yards on 32 attempts and had 179 yards through the air.
Trine had 462 yards in total offense (282 rushing, 180 passing).
Opple completed 10 of 25 passes for 146 yards. Senior Kurtis Slenk of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian HS) caught five passes for 101 yards, while sophomore Cooper Cecchini of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) had three receptions for 75 yards in his first game of the season.
Sophomore defensive back Luke Beckhusen of Coldwater, Michigan (Coldwater), made 12 tackles, six of them solo stops, while senior defensive back Jakob Zanski of Wyandotte, Michigan (Roosevelt ) was in on 10 tackles and forced a fumble. Senior linebacker Griffin Weigl of Saginaw, Michigan (Nouvel Catholic Central) had a fumble recovery.
The Flying Dutchmen return to action next Saturday against Kalamazoo College in the annual battle for the Wooden Shoe Trophy at Angell Field in Kalamazoo, with kickoff at 1 p.m.
— Greg Chandler