Panthers welcome Defiance for conference clash Saturday

Defensive group

HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover College football team will look to continue its best Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference start under head coach Matt Theobald when the Blue and Red welcome Defiance for a 1:30 p.m. game, Saturday, Oct. 13.  

SERIES HISTORY: The Panthers and Yellow Jackets will be meeting for the 39th time when they kick off at Alumni Stadium this weekend, with HC currently holding a 24-14 edge in the all-time series. Each of the last five games have been decided by eight points or less, including last fall, where the Panthers won on the road, 37-29. The Blue and Red also picked up a 27-20 victory at home in 2016, giving them two straight wins in the series.

HOME SWEET HOMECOMING: Hanover gave its spectators and supporters something to cheer for during the College's 91st annual Homecoming celebration last Saturday, as the team earned an 83-17 victory over Earlham. The 83 points fell four points shy of tying the school record, which was set in 1925 against St. Mary's (Ky.). Overall, HC recorded 11 touchdowns, two safeties and one field goal during the high-scoring affair. Hanover also tallied 704 total offensive yards, including 378 rushing yards, as both marks were program highs under Theobald.

SCORING FIRST: In the win over Earlham, HC recorded a safety on the Quakers' second offensive possession and followed it up with a touchdown on their next drive to lead 9-0 just over five minutes in. Hanover has now tallied the game's first point in four of five outings this fall, and its lone failed attempt still featured a touchdown on its opening offensive possession. The early scoring continued last week, as HC led 22-3 after the first quarter and 57-17 at halftime.

DOMINATING DEFENSE: The Panthers continue to be the best statistical defense in the HCAC this season, allowing 18 points and just over 300 yards per game, both of which rank among the top 50 in NCAA Division III. Hanover is also leading the conference in sacks per game, 3.00, and red zone defense, allowing a score on 56.3 percent of tries. The Panthers' red zone mark is 24th nationally. In conference action, HC has not allowed more than 17 points in any of its three games, while also keeping two opponents to 200 or fewer yards.

BLOCKING PUNTS: Hanover has pressured opposing punters all season long and have even blocked a pair of attempts. Sophomore Walt Ballinger (Beech Grove, Ind.) blocked his second punt of the season last week against Earlham, and freshman Sam Jackson (Indianapolis, Ind.) recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Ballinger's two rejections have HC ranked ninth nationally in blocked punts.

TREBER TOPS IN TACKLING: Sophomore Kyle Treber (Mishawaka, Ind.) currently leads the Panthers in tackles per game at 7.6. The sophomore is among the conference leaders in stops, while also adding 3.5 tackles for loss, two pass breakups and one interception. Treber is coming off a seven-tackle performance against Earlham.

QB's COMBINE FOR BIG DAY: Junior quarterbacks AJ Breit (Louisville, Ky.) and Alex Fabert (Mooresville, Ind.) each saw their first extended action as Panthers and did not disappoint. The two combined to complete 18-of-23 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns against the Quakers, with Breit earning his first career start and recording 13-of-15 completions for 238 yards and two scores. Fabert also saw action early and often, going 5-for-8, for 73 yards and two touchdowns, as well as 46 yards rushing on two carries.

DAUGHERTY DOING HIS THING: After scoring on a 14-yard completion in the second quarter last Saturday, junior wideout Jackson Daugherty (Greenwood, Ind.) has now found the end zone in all five games this season. Dating back to last year, Daugherty has reached pay dirt in seven of his last eight outings. For the season, the junior has 27 catches for 467 yards and five scores, and is coming off a six-catch, 104-yard performance against Earlham. Averaging nearly 100 receiving yards per game, Daugherty is ranked fourth in the HCAC and 59th nationally.

RUN COANE RUN: Sophomore Shawn Coane (Evansville, Ind.) has followed up his stellar freshman campaign in 2017 with another strong effort this fall. Currently, the sophomore is third in the conference and among the top 50 in Division III with 99.6 rushing yards per game. Coane is coming off a 133-yard and two touchdown effort against Earlham, a performance that saw him average over 10 yards per carry. For the season, Coane is gashing defenses for 5.5 yards per rush, which is second in the HCAC. The do-it-all back is also second on the team in receptions per game, 4.8, and his 134.4 all-purpose yards per outing is among the conference leaders.

SCOUTING THE YELLOW JACKETS: Defiance, under first year head coach Manny Matsakis, will enter the 1:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday with a 0-5 overall record, including a 0-3 mark in conference play. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 55-28 setback against Franklin last Saturday.

Statistically, DC is averaging 14.8 points and 285.2 yards per game, while conceding 46.0 points and 463.0 yards per contest. Logan Mico is averaging close to 175 passing yards per contest, while Corey Bennett is gaining 73.4 yards per game on the ground.

Defensively, Jalin Nealy has 57 total tackles, 11.4 stops per game, which is second best in the conference. Nealy also has eight tackles for loss, including three sacks.

UP NEXT: Hanover will continue conference play with a trip to Manchester next Saturday, Oct. 20. The Panthers and Spartans are set to kickoff at 1:30 p.m. inside Carl W. Burt Memorial Stadium.  

Contact: Tyler Jester