HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover College football team welcomes Franklin College to Alumni Stadium for the 89th Victory Bell Game. The Panthers will also be celebrating Senior Day.
DOMINATING THE HCAC: With the Panthers victory over Rose-Hulman last Saturday (42-13), the Blue and Red secured their second straight HCAC Title and the automatic qualifier to the NCAA Playoffs. Prior to the 2018 campaign, the Panthers last appearance in the NCAA Playoff dated back to 2003.
89th VICTORY BELL: The Victory Bell has been awarded to the winner of the rivalry match-up dating back to 1938. The idea of a trophy for the winner of the annual game was presented by Hanover's "Bat Club," a non-athletic group of male students on campus, that wanted to improve school spirit. Last season, the Panthers defeated Franklin for the teams first Bell-Game Victory since 2004 returning the Bell to Hanover, Ind.
NATIONAL SCENE: For the second consecutive week, the Blue and Red have burst onto the National scene earning votes in the latest D3Football.com Poll. As the only HCAC team in the poll, Hanover also makes its first appearance in the AFCA Coaches' Poll for 2019. The recognition doesn't stop there, as Hanover has climbed into the top 10 among the NCAA Division III North region coming in at number nine.
HONORING SENIORS: Hanover will honor its 20 players prior to the start of Saturday's contest. The seniors being honored are Taylor Bleistein (Wesley Chapel, Fla.), AJ Breit (Louisville, Ky.), Carter Chastain (Paoli, Ind.), Chase Cope (Mooresville, Ind.), Kornell Dash (Evansville, Ind.), Jackson Daugherty (Greenwood, Ind.), Alex Fabert (Mooresville, Ind.), Noah Fuchs (Evansville, Ind.), Austin Gates (Stilesville, Ind.), Conner Gibson (Lexington, Ky.), Adam Grabert (Mount Vernon, Ind.), Kaleb Grabert (Mount Vernon, Ind.), Trey Kuerzi (Corydon, Ind.), Dakota Manion (West Lafayette, Ind.), Jake Namisnak (Indianapolis, Ind.), Dylon Neff (Moores Hill, Ind.), Carson Plessinger (Alexandria, Ky.), Matt Rier (Wellington, Fla.), Josh Schefke (Terre Haute, Ind.), and Sam Smith (Aurora, Ind.).
DOMINATING DEFENSE: The Blue and Red defense continues to torment opposing teams as they have forced 17 turnovers with nine interceptions. Leading the charge is sophomore Kiefer Askew (Warner Robins, Ga.) with a team-high four interceptions and 10 pass breakups. Senior, linebacker, Carson Plessinger (Alexandria, Ky.) and defensive lineman, Matt Rier (Wellington, Fla.) continue to be a nightmare in the backfield as the duo has combined for seven and half sacks, ranking them among the best in the HCAC. With 8.2 tackles per game, junior Kyle Treber (Mishawaka, Ind.) also places his name among the HCAC best this season. As a team, the Panther defense ranks just shy of the top 20 among NCAA institutions in total defense, while ranking in the top 15 in touchdowns allowed (15) and fourth down conversion percentage (12).
HIGH FLYING OFFENSE: The Panther offense is firing on all cylinders averaging 476.1 yards per game with nearly 265-yards coming through the air. The team is averaging 41.8 points per game behind the efforts of signal caller, junior Noah Wezensky (Fort Wayne, Ind.). The junior is averaging 231.7-yards per game with 19 total touchdowns. In the backfield, junior Shawn Coane (Evansville, Ind.) has acquired much of the work load rushing for 133.7-yards per game with an HCAC leading 17 touchdowns.
SCOUTING THE GRIZZLIES: The Franklin College Grizzlies enter the contest 5-4 overall, 4-2 HCAC after defeating Bluffton 10-0. In the contest with the Beavers, Franklin forced four turnovers and held Bluffton to 212 total yards of offense to win their second straight game. As a team this season, the Grizzlies are averaging 373.4-yards per game and 27.7 points per contest led by senior, quarterback, Braden Smith. The senior has thrown for 12 touchdowns while turning in 192.4-yards per game. In the backfield, senior Austin Gruden has posted a team-high 104 carries for seven touchdowns, while senior, wide receiver, Joey Siderewicz has posted a team-high three touchdown receptions.