ANGOLA, Ind. (WANE) – In the team’s first ever meeting with fellow engineering institution Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the Trine University football team came up just short of a fourth quarter comeback and would drop their home opener by the score of 31-30.
The Thunder would win the coin toss and defer to the second half, with the Fightin’ Engineers taking the opening drive on offense. After some initial success moving the ball, Rose-Hulman went for it on fourth and three at the 44 yardline in Trine’s half of the field. The Thunder defense came up with the first of many stops in the contest, recording their first turnover of the game.
The offense took advantage of the good field position mounting a balanced attack the led them to a second and four at the Rose-Hulman 11 yardline. Junior quarterback Alex Price (Reading, Mich. / Reading) would fake the handoff and rush to the right driving into the endzone to give the team an early 7-0 lead.
The Thunder looked poised to double that lead with just over three minutes remaining in the second quarter, but a series of negative plays left them with a third and 13 from the Rose-Hulman 18 yardline. From there further disaster struck when Price would lose handle on the ball and the Fightin’ Engineers would scoop it up at the 28 yardline.
The ensuing drive featured a 65 yard pass on the first play when a wheel route left the main rusher for Rose-Hulman in the open field. They would finish off the drive two playes later with a two-yard quarterback run for the touchdown, tying the game at seven.
Trine’s defense once again would set up the offense for success early in the second quarter. On third and long for the Fightin’ Engineers, sophomore Kendall Himes (Plymouth, Ind. / Plymouth) would apply superior pressure to the oppositions quarterback setting up junior Jake Gladieux (Oregon, Ohio / Whitmer) to come up with an interception off an errant throw.
Once again Price would lead the team down the field recording two long pass completions to set up a six-yard touchdown run for himself giving the Thunder a 14-7 lead.
Rose-Hulman would respond with a five-minute balanced drive ending with a 39-yard touchdown pass to tie the game again. After a few failed drives from both teams, the Fightin’ Engineers would take back the lead on a 41-yard field goal to enter the half at 17-14.
The third quarter was almost all in favor of Rose-Hulman. They would score a pair of touchdowns in the period to build their lead against the Thunder to 31-17. The lone points for the home team came on a 28-yard field goal from senior Ryan Hibbets (Monticello, Ind. / Twin Lakes) after the offense stalled out in the redzone.
The fourth quarter saw the Thunder start with the ball but behind the chains at third down and nine. A deep pass attempt by the team would draw the defensive pass interference. Price would follow up with a 30-yard completion to junior Kyran Pearson (Elkhart, Ind. / Elkhart Central) getting the team just outside of the redzone. This time it was junior running back Xaine Kirby (Sweetser, Ind. / Eastbrook) who would string together three strong runs to finish off the drive for the Thunder. His lone touchdown of the game pulled the team back within striking distance at 31-24.
Both defenses would lockdown for the next five drives. All through the fourth quarter the Thunder played strigent defense, keeping Rose-Hulman in negative yardage for the period.
The Thunder would break the stalemeate when they started a drive with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Price would lead the way down the field with a series of completions coming to three different receivers. He then finished off the drive with a 15-yard touchdown to Pearson with just under two minutes remaining in the contest.
The team elected to go for two following the touchdown looking to take the lead and put the game in the capable hands of the their defense. They would fail the attempt and were forced to try an onside kick on the insuing kickoff which Rose-Hulman recovered.
The defense gave Trine one more chance, holding firm and forcing a four-and-out giving the offense the ball with 33-seconds left. After an 11-yard completion, Price missed on three straight passes and and the game would end with the Fightin’ Engineers in victory formation and a one-point lead at 31-30.
Price led the offense in the game in both passing and rushing. He went 17-34 in the air for 257 yards and one touchdown. On the ground in finished with 40 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.
Sophomore Connor Arthur (Bryan, Ohio / Bryan) led the team with three catches for 89 yards while Pearson finished just behind him with 87 yards and a touchdown.
Senior Kyle Naif (Riverview, Mich. / Riverview) led the team defensively finishing with 14 total tackles including five solo, classmate Keysean Amison (Sandusky, Ohio / Perkins) came in second with 11 tackles also with five coming solo.
The team falls to 1-1 following the loss. They will play at home again next Saturday, Sept. 18 when they host Mount Saint Joseph for a 1 p.m. contest. The game is again the first meeting between the teams.