HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover football team's late rally fell short in its home opener Saturday afternoon, as they fell to Thomas More (Ky.), 27-18.
Despite a trio of touchdown passes from sophomore Noah Wezensky (Fort Wayne, Ind.), the Panthers (0-2) were unable to recover from untimely penalties and turnovers, tallying eight flags for 84 yards and three interceptions. The Saints (1-1), who were charged for over 100 yards in penalties and had two interceptions, were able to gain a 41:03 to 18:57 advantage in time of possession en route to their first win of 2018.
Thomas More took the opening drive 94 yards, over the first 9:17 of play, to take a 7-0 lead. On Hanover's second offensive play from scrimmage though, Wezensky connected with junior wideout Jackson Daugherty (Greenwood, Ind.) for a 71-yard touchdown. The Panthers' point-after try was blocked, leaving the score in favor of Thomas More, 7-6, with 5:06 remaining in the first quarter.
Daugherty led the team with 97 receiving yards on four receptions. Wezensky completed the contest 18-for-31 for 243 yards.
An eventful second quarter featured four total turnovers, two interceptions for each side, but it was Thomas More that capitalized on the mistakes, punching in a one-yard touchdown run to go up 14-6 before the intermission. The Saints were driving again near the end of the first half but junior Kornell Dash (Evansville, Ind.) picked off a pass in the end zone with 12 seconds showing on the clock.
Hanover was forced to punt on its first possession of the second half, while Thomas More was able to find pay dirt on a seven-yard scramble by quarterback Justin Post. The Blue and Red though, responded with a touchdown of their own on the ensuing drive, going 66 yards over 12 plays, with Wezensky finding sophomore Jared Frank (Louisville, Ky.) from 14 yards out. Thomas More still led 20-12 with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
After TMC was able to score again near the end of the third quarter, the Saints led by two scores for the remainder of the contest. Wezensky and Frank connected again late in the fourth, as a 23-yard touchdown pulled HC within nine points, 27-18, but the ensuing onside kick went out of bounds and the Saints were able to run out the clock.
Frank would tie for the team high in receptions, four, covering 52 yards, to go along with his two scores. Junior Connor Gibson (Lexington, Ky.) also hauled in two timely catches for a total of 41 yards. Also recording 41 receiving yards was sophomore Shawn Coane (Evansville, Ind.), who added 18 carries for 80 yards out of the backfield.
Defensively, senior Brody Dell (Tipton, Ind.) notched a career-high 20 total tackles, giving Hanover its third 20-plus tackle effort since the start of the 2017 season. Sophomore Kyle Treber (Mishawaka, Ind.), who owns the other two 20-tackle performances, posted 14 stops and one interception Saturday.
Overall, Hanover had 10 different players record at least five total tackles, including senior Zach Dauer (Cincinnati, Ohio) and junior Dakota Manion (West Lafayette, Ind.), who joined Dell and Treber in double figures. Dating back to last season, Manion now has 10-plus tackles in each of his last three outings, averaging 11.7 stops during the stretch.
Hanover will be off next weekend before returning to action Saturday, Sept. 22. The Panthers will then travel to Bluffton to open their conference slate with a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.
Contact: Tyler Jester