Conference clash with MSJ on the horizon for football

Jared Frank, Carter Chastain

HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover football team will welcome Mount St. Joseph to Alumni Stadium this weekend for a battle between two of the top three teams in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings.

The Panthers (5-2, 5-0 HCAC) and Lions, who are a combined 10-1 in HCAC play this season, are slated for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff at C. Wayne Perry Field.

SERIES HISTORY: Hanover has dropped five straight to MSJ, with the last series win coming in 2012. In HC's last win over the Lions, the Panthers rallied from a 24-9 deficit with a little over minutes remaining to earn a thrilling 28-24 come-from-behind victory. Despite the recent setbacks, the Blue and Red still lead the all-time series 15-11 and have split the last four meetings in Hanover.

COANE'S CAREER DAY: Sophomore Shawn Coane (Evansville, Ind.) continues to impress, as his career day at Manchester last Saturday earned him HCAC Offensive Player of the Week accolades for the second straight week. Coane posted a career-high 254 rushing yards on 32 carries, while also recording three receptions for 75 yards, good enough for a career-best 329 all-purpose yards. The sophomore also notched a pair of touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, giving him 23 career scores in 15 games.

For the season, Coane is leading the HCAC in all-purpose (170.4) and rushing (128.6) yards per game, while ranking 12th and 15th, respectively, in NCAA Division III. The sophomore is also gashing defenses for 6.47 yards per carry, which is among the top 30 in the country.

PANTHERS A SCARY OCTOBER OPPONENT: The month of Halloween, pumpkins, candy and black cats has proven the Panthers to be freighting side for opposing teams under head coach Matt Theobald. In Theobald's third season as head coach of his alma mater, the Blue and Red currently have an eight-game winning streak in the month of October. In three games in 2018, HC has outscored its opponents by a combined total of 179-38, good enough for a plus-47.0 scoring margin.
SCORING FIRST: Hanover scored the opening two touchdowns during its 48-14 win over Manchester last Saturday, giving the squad the first score in six of its seven games this fall. The Panthers have gotten off to fast starts all season long, especially in HCAC play, where they have a 78-3 first quarter scoring advantage. In all five HCAC outings, HC has held at least a 14-point edge after 15 minutes of play.

EXPLOSIVE OFFENSE: The Blue and Red have produced program highs under Theobald this fall, averaging 472.6 yards and 42.0 points per game, with both marks ranking second in the HCAC and among the top 25 nationally. The offensive success can be attributed to 202.0 rushing yards per game, which is second-best in the conference. Hanover also has the highest completion percentage in the HCAC, .662, which is 16th across Division III.

"BREIT" SPOT: Junior quarterback AJ Breit (Louisville, Ky.) has made his first three career starts for the Blue and Red over the past three weeks and has proceeded to complete 53-of-72 passes for 735 yards and 10 scores. If he had reached the minimum requirements set by the NCAA (appear in 75% of games and attempts 15 passes per game), Breit's season stats, a 74 percent completion clip and 206.6 passing efficiency, would lead all of Division III.

GIVING & RECEIVING: Hanover's wide receiver corps has been balanced and explosive all season long, as the team has four receivers with at least 15 catches, 240 yards and five touchdowns. Leading the team in yards is junior Jackson Daugherty (Greenwood, Ind.) at 514. Daugherty has a pair of 100-plus yard performances and two additional outings over 90 yards. Sophomore Jared Frank (Louisville, Ky.) paces the group with six receiving scores, including four in the past four weeks. Frank has 28 catches for 324 yards this fall.

DOMINATING DEFENSE: The defensive unit for the Blue and Red has been the best, statistically, in the HCAC this fall, allowing 15.0 points and 272.4 yards per game. Hanover also leads the conference in rushing and passing yards allowed per game at 117.0 and 155.4, respectively.

Adding to the dominate yardage and scoring numbers, HC has been among the nation's best in supplemental categories as well. Hanover currently leads the conference in sacks per game (3.43), red zone defense (.455) and third down defense (.254). Their red zone and third down conversion marks are inside the top 12 of Division III. A trio of players, senior Zach Dauer (Cincinnati, Ohio), junior Chase Cope (Mooresville, Ind.) and freshman Tyree Upchurch (Indianapolis, Ind.), are tied for the team lead with four season sacks.

LINEBACKING TANDEM TOPS IN TACKLING: A pair of linebackers, sophomore Kyle Treber (Mishawaka, Ind.) and junior Dakota Manion (West Lafayette, Ind.), are leading the team in tackles per game at 8.1 and 7.3, respectively. Treber's mark is good enough for fifth in the HCAC and the sophomore is coming off an 11-stop performance at Manchester.

Manion has a trio of double-digit tackle games this season and is coming off a seven-stop performance versus the Spartans. The junior also picked off a pass in the win, where HC allowed 163 yards of total offense. To go along with his tackling numbers, Manion has a team-high two interceptions, five tackles for loss, three sacks and two pass breakups.

KICKING & PUNTING SPECIALISTS: Freshman Brayden Oberhausen (Louisville, Ky.) has been one of the best punters in the HCAC this fall, averaging 36.4 yards per punt. In his inaugural collegiate campaign, Oberhausen has a long of 52 yards, nine punts inside the 20 and zero touchbacks.

Classmate Dozier Combs (Lexington, Ky.) has been key in pinning opponents deep in their own territory on kickoffs. Combs is averaging nearly 60 yards per kickoff attempt and of his 42 tries, 17 have gone for touchbacks.

Field goal kicking has mainly been assigned to sophomore Austin Steurer (Warsaw, Ky.), who has made 27-of-32 point-after tries, as well as his only field goal attempt from 32 yards out. Steurer has produced 30 points for HC this season and 79 for his collegiate career.

SCOUTING THE LIONS: Mount St. Joseph enters Saturday's road contest with a 6-2 overall mark, including a 5-1 record in HCAC play. Once again, the Lions have an explosive offense, 456.0 yards and 39.4 points per game, but have also produced a strong defensive unit as well, allowing 333.9 yards and 22.8 points per contest. All four statistical marks rank among the top three in the conference.

Junior quarterback Chaiten Tomlin has 29 touchdowns this season, one off the national leader, while also producing over 300 yards per game. Tomlin has a career passing average of 279.7 yards, which is good enough for fourth among active NCAA Division III players. The junior also has a pair of games this season with over 400 passing yards and seven touchdowns.

Additional offensive highlights include wideout A.J. Glines and running back Michael Williamson. Glines is first in the league in receptions per game, 7.1, and touchdowns, 11, while ranking second in receiving yards per contest, 96.6. Williamson has gone over 100 yards on the ground in three of the last four games, giving him 460 yards for the season to go along with five touchdowns.

Defensively, senior defensive back Tavon Robertson leads the team in tackles per game at 7.3. Robertson also has two interceptions and four pass breakups.

UP NEXT: Hanover will welcome Rose-Hulman next Saturday, Nov. 3, for a 2 p.m. kickoff. The Panthers will honor their seniors during the last home game of the season, while also inducting the 2018 Athletic Hall of Fame class.  

Contact: Tyler Jester