HANOVER, Ind. – The Panther football team will look to remain undefeated this weekend in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play as they travel to Cincinnati, Ohio to take on Mount St. Joseph.
HCAC STANDINGS: The Panthers currently sit alone among the top of the conference at 4-0 but nipping at the heals are the Lions of Mount St. Joseph and Rose-Hulman in a tie for second with one loss. The Blue and Red have the top three teams in the HCAC remaining on their schedule in MSJ, Rose-Hulman, and rival Franklin.
SERIES HISTORY: Mount St. Joseph has had a strong hold over the series dating back to the 2010 season going 7-2 overall. The Panthers dropped a heartbreaker to the Lions in 2018 as a late fourth quarter score propelled them to the 19-15 victory. In the contest, the Blue and Red finished with a game-high 332-yards of total offense and 152-yards rushing. The dominating forces for Hanover were junior Shawn Coane (Evansville, Ind.) and senior Jackson Daugherty (Greenwood, Ind.). Coane finished with 131 total yards and a touchdown, while teammate Daugherty had 116 receiving yards and a score.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Blue and Red special team's unit continues to shine behind the performance of junior Austin Steurer (Warsaw, Ky.) who has been named the HCAC Special Teams Player of the Week on two separate occasions. The junior is a perfect 41-for-41 on PAT tries, ranking him among the best in the NCAA. The teams perfect 43 points is the most among the league and places them in the top ten among NCAA Division III institutions.
GROUND GAME: Coane dominates the ground game for HC with 842 total yards and 12 touchdowns, ranking him second in the HCAC. His 120.3 yards per game also lands him among the league best as well as places him inside the top 20 among the NCAA. Joining him the backfield is junior Walt Ballinger (Beech Grove, Ind.) with 455 total yards and six touchdowns. Ballinger is known for his monster rushes this season averaging 9.5 yards per carry with just 48 touches on the year.
ARRIEL ATTACK: The passing game has been led by junior Noah Wezensky (Fort Wayne, Ind.) averaging 238.3-yards per game with a 165.6 efficiency rating. He currently ranks among the best in the HCAC in touchdowns (14) and total yards (1,668). His main target appears to be senior Conner Gibson (Lexington, Ky.) with a team-high 39 receptions for 552 total yards. The senior has tallied five touchdowns, tying junior Jared Frank (Louisville, Ky.) for most on the team.
DOMINATING DEFENSE: The Panther defense continues to be as stingy as ever allowing just 277-yards per game. Until a second quarter score this past weekend, the Blue and Red had not given up a touchdown in ten straight quarters of football allowing just 17 points to be scored in conference action. Leading the efforts are seniors Matt Rier (Wellington ,Fla.) and Carson Plessinger (Alexandria, Ky.) with 3.5 sacks each. Rier comes into the contest with 32 total tackles including 20 solo, while Plessinger has tallied 34 total tackles and six tackles for loss.
SCOUTING MSJ: The Lions suffered their first loss of the season last weekend falling to Rose-Hulman, 29-8. Despite the setback the team continues to fire on all cylinders as senior, quarterback, Chaiten Tomlin is having a record setting season with 2,262 total yards and a conference leading 25 touchdowns. Tomlin is averaging 323.1-yards per game with a 166.0 efficiency rating.
UP NEXT: The Hanover road stint continues as they travel to Terre Haute, Ind. on Saturday, November 9 to take on Rose-Hulman. Kickoff is set for 2 PM.