TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Hanover College football team kept its win streak alive as they defeated Rose-Hulman en route to their second consecutive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference title Saturday afternoon and another national playoff berth, 42-13.
With the win, the Panthers (8-1 overall, 6-0 HCAC) claim the league's national playoff automatic qualifier and will make their second consecutive appearance.
The Fightin' Engineers found themselves victims of the tenacious Panther defense that allowed just 224-yards of total offense and registered four sacks.
The contest opened with a Rose-Hulman three-an-out before junior Noah Wezensky (Fort Wayne, Ind.) took the Panthers 62-yards on four plays for a senior Taylor Bleistein (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) score, 7-0.
However, Rose-Hulman responded with 11:00 minutes remaining in the opening period traveling 75-yards for the touchdown but a failed extra point attempt left them nipping at the Panther heals, 7-6.
The second quarter saw Hanover extend their lead as junior Walt Ballinger (Beech Grove, Ind.) rushed ahead for a 20-yard pickup placing the Panther offense inside the Fightin' Engineers 25-yard line. Junior Shawn Coane (Evansville, Ind.) handled the rest as he got the call on third and two rumbling ahead for 15-yards and the score, 14-6.
With the defense backed inside their own 25-yard line they delivered as they got pressure on the quarterback in a fourth and eight situation that saw the signal caller hit the turf in the backfield and forced a turnover on downs.
Using the momentum, the Blue and Red delivered another devastating blow that this time saw Wezensky and Coane connecting through the air for the 21-6 advantage.
The final blow of the half came with just 1:52 remaining as the offensive pilot, Wezensky, drove the Blue and Red 55-yards including a 13-yard hookup with junior Jared Frank (Louisville, Ky.) for the 28-6 halftime lead.
The scoring frenzy continued into the second half as another defensive three-an-out set the stage for the Blue and Red. Starting the drive at their own 42-yard line, Wezensky found senior Jackson Daugherty(Greenwood, Ind.) for an eight-yard connection before a Coane handoff moved the Panthers inside Rose-Hulman territory. The big play of the afternoon came moments later as the signal caller connected with Bleistein for a 44-yard pass and score, 35-6.
With the game well in hand the Panthers delivered one final blow early in the fourth quarter that came on a 50-yard scamper by Coane to secure the dominating HCAC Tttle victory.
Hanover returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 16 with the 89th annual Victory Bell Game against Franklin. Kickoff is set for 1:30 PM.