HANOVER, Ind. – A slow start and five turnovers plagued the Hanover football team at home Saturday afternoon, as Mount St. Joseph took the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference top-three showdown by a final of 19-15.
After recording just 65 yards on 28 plays in the first half, the Panthers (5-3, 5-1 HCAC) would finish the contest with a 332-259 advantage in total offensive yards. Highlighting the offensive play were junior Jackson Daugherty (Greenwood, Ind.) and sophomore Shawn Coane (Evansville, Ind.). Daugherty finished with seven receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown, while Coane added 131 yards and a score on the ground.
The defense was a bright spot throughout for HC, as the Blue and Red held the Lions (7-2, 6-1 HCAC) 197 yards under their season average. Mount St. Joseph also came in averaging close to 40 points per game.
Leading the charge was the linebacking duo of sophomore Kyle Treber (Mishawaka, Ind.) and junior Dakota Manion (West Lafayette, Ind.). Treber paced the Panthers with 13 stops, while also adding 1.5 tackles for loss. Manion finished with double-digit tackles for the fourth time this fall and added a pass breakup as well Saturday.
A duo of Panthers in senior Brody Dell (Tipton, Ind.) and junior Carson Plessinger (Alexandria, Ky.) posted eight stops each. Senior Zach Dauer (Cincinnati, Ohio) was in on six tackles, as he and Plessinger led the team to a 10-tackle for loss, six-sack performance.
The Lions used the opening drive of the contest to take the first lead of the game, 3-0, at the 10:09 mark. After a Hanover fumble, the defense forced the Lions into another field goal, putting MSJ in front 6-0 just over eight minutes in.
As the first quarter was coming to an end, another HC giveaway, this time an interception gave the Lions great field position. Three plays later, MSJ was up 12-0, with 11 seconds showing on the first quarter clock.
After a scoreless second and third quarter, Hanover found itself in a 3rd-and-17 situation to open the fourth frame on offense. The first play though, junior AJ Breit (Louisville, Ky.) launched a pass to Daugherty for a 56-yard score, cutting the HC deficit to 12-7 with 14:50 remaining.
The Panther defense then stood tall and forced a MSJ punt, keeping the momentum on the Blue and Red's side. Hanover followed with a 14-play, 74-yard drive, spanning 6:11, to take the lead at 15-12. Coane rushed into the end zone after breaking a few tackles from 16 yards out. Breit then found sophomore Jared Frank (Louisville, Ky.) on a slant route for the two-point conversion.
To capture the lead, HC's defense allowed just 18 yards over MSJ's first four second half possessions. The Lions though, trailing for the first time, responded with their own long drive, 63 yards in 10 plays, to regain the lead at 19-15 with 2:01 left to play.
Hanover was able to get one first down but on third down, the Panthers tossed their fourth interception of the day, giving MSJ the ball with just over one minute remaining. The Lions picked up a first down and eventually ran out the clock to secure the win.
Despite the loss, the Panthers are still in the hunt for the HCAC championship. Hanover though, will need to win its final two games to likely share the crown with MSJ and Franklin. The Grizzlies are currently the only remaining league unbeaten.
The Blue and Red will open the two-game stretch at home, welcoming Rose-Hulman for Senior Day next Saturday, Nov. 3. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.
Contact: Tyler Jester