HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover football team will look to honors its seniors with a win during Saturday's season finale, as the Panthers host Franklin for the 61st-annual Victory Bell Game.
THE BASICS: Date – Nov. 11 | Time – 1:30 p.m. | Location – Alumni Stadium (Hanover, Ind.)
THE TEAMS: Hanover will enter its final contest of the 2017 season 4-5 overall and 4-3 in HCAC play. A 35-34 home loss to Manchester last week snapped a three-game winning streak, which was tied for the most consecutive wins under head coach Matt Theobald. Franklin, who has already secured the HCAC championship for the eighth straight year, will continue its preparations for the NCAA Division III National Tournament by trying to win their 13th straight Victory Bell game. After dropping a pair of non-conference games to start the season, the Grizzlies have won seven straight, all of which have come in the HCAC, giving them a 7-2 overall mark and 7-0 record in conference play.
SENIOR DAY: Hanover will honor its senior class during Saturday's contest against Franklin. The Blue and Red have been successful in recent Senior Day games, winning four of the last seven overall, including a thrilling, come-from-behind, 27-20 victory over Defiance in 2016.
LIGHTING UP THE DEFENSE: Last Saturday marked senior quarterback Chase Lightfoot's (Crestwood, Ky.) third 300 yard passing game this fall, as he completed 31-of-41 attempts for 382 yards and a season-high five touchdowns. The senior surpassed 5,000 career passing yards during the one-point defeat and also flirted with the program record for completion percentage in a single game, 88.6.
SCORING 30 OR MORE: Hanover has scored over 30 points in five games this season, with the 35-34 loss to Manchester marking just the first time the team has lost when reaching the scoring plateau. The Blue and Red are now 4-1 in 2017 and 7-1 all-time under Theobald when surpassing 30 points. The Panthers are averaging 33.0 points per game, while also tallying 37.6 points per conference contest.
THE DO-IT-ALL BACK: Freshman Shawn Coane (Evansville, Ind.) continues to eat up yards on the ground and through the air, as he is averaging 157.3 all-purpose yards per game. Coane has rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games, and is coming off a 122 yard performance on the ground against Manchester. The freshman also added a team-high eight receptions for 112 yards and one touchdown versus the Spartans.
BLEISTEIN RETURNS TO LEAD RECEIVERS: Sophomore wide out Taylor Bleistein (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) returned from injury last Saturday to lead a dynamic group of receivers. Bleistein caught six passes for a team high 122 yards and one touchdown, as he averaged over 20 yards per reception.
TREBER TOPS IN TACKLES: Freshman linebacker Kyle Treber (Mishawaka, Ind.) continues to lead the HCAC in tackles per game, 10.9, which is also good enough to be inside the top 25 in NCAA Division III. Hanover's last player to record a double-digit stop average was Ryan Martin, who led the nation at 14.3 per game in 2015.
STOPPING THE RUN: The Blue and Red continue to be one of the best in the country at stopping the run. Hanover is allowing just over 100 yards per game, which is good enough for second in the HCAC and 37th in NCAA Division III. The Panthers have held their opponents under 100 rushing yards in five games this season, including three of the last four outings.
DISRUPTING D-ENDS: A pair of seniors in Zach Dauer (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Layne Harnishfeger (Batesville, Ind.) have wreaked havoc in opponent's backfields all season long, combining for 22.5 tackles for loss. Both Dauer and Harnishfeger find themselves among the top six in the HCAC in total sacks.
MORE ABOUT FRANKLIN: The Grizzlies have already secured the HCAC's automatic berth into the NCAA National Tournament, and were recently placed sixth in the latest installment of the North Regional rankings. They are also in the receiving votes category of the D3football.com National Top 25 poll. Chase Burton, who is fifth among active career leaders in all divisions for passing yards (10,963), has completed 68 percent of his passes this year for 3,300 yards and 37 touchdowns. Deontez Alexander has been on the receiving end of most of Burton's passes, accumulating 1,014 yards and 16 touchdowns on 46 receptions. Overall, FC is averaging 49.4 points per game, while allowing close to 30 per contest.
Contact: Tyler Jester