Thunder win homecoming edition of Border Brawl

College Sports

ANGOLA, Ind. (WANE) – Trine University football won the 2021 Border Brawl game against rival Adrian College to cap off a soggy Homecoming. A last-minute score gave the Thunder a 36-20 victory, in an otherwise highly contested game.

Both teams were affected by the heavy rain that started early in the second quarter and would continue intermitted throughout the rest of the contest. The two teams combined for just 13 completions and 236 passing yards.

With the game devolving into a rushing contest the Thunder took a distinct advantage with a pair of two players ending the game with over 100 yards and a third just missing out on the mark. Junior quarterback Alex Price (Reading, Mich. / Reading) led the team with 138 yards on the ground with classmate Xaine Kirby (Sweetser, Ind. / Eastbrook) coming in with 101 yards. Sophomore Jordan Watson (Ann Arbor, Mich. / Dexter) finished the game with 81 yards to round out the trio of large gains. 

All told the Thunder ended the game with 316 yards of rushing offense, outgaining the opposition’s total yards by more than 100.

The Bulldogs received the opening kickoff after losing the coin toss and on the first play of the game, the Trine defense began to impose their will on the contest. Senior Tyler Pollard (Homosassa, Fla. / Crystal River) lowered his shoulder forcing a fumble against the Adrian running back and classmate Marc Guerrero (Gary, Ind. / Merrillville) came up with the loose ball deep in Bulldog territory.

The ensuing drive for the Thunder ended quickly after the opposition forced a three-and-out, but senior Ryan Hibbetts (Monticello, Ind. / Twin Lakes) knocked the ball through for a 42-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead for the Thunder.

A few critical penalties aided the Bulldogs on their next drive as they moved the ball into Trine territory for the first time of the game. Then an Adrian receiver got open in the center of the field and suddenly the Thunder trailed 6-0 after a failed extra point.

The offense would respond for the team, as they manufactured a 63-yard drive mostly on the back of Kirby’s rushing and ending with a 31-yard strike from the running back.

After an Adrian punt on the next drive Price would complete one of his few passing attempts in the game to junior Brandon Kline (Callahan, Fla. / Yulee) for a 48-yard gain, the longest passing play of the day. Kirby would once again finish off the drive, this time with a six-yard run. After another successful extra point from Hibbetts the team would lead 17-6.

In the first drive of the second quarter Adrian’s Wurzer would complete another long pass to to cut the deficit to four. 

Trine had a quick three-and-out on their next drive and the Bulldogs drove the ball down the field setting up a first-and-goal from the four yard line. But the rain had started and an errant snap pushed Adrian back to the Trine 23-yard line. On second down senior Jacob Yoder (Elkhart, Ind. / Concord) and sophomore Jacob Jackson (Toledo, Ohio / Central Catholic) combined for a sack. After a third down incompletion, sophomore Kendall Himes (Plymouth, Ind. / Plymouth) came up with a sack of his own on fourth down to give the offense the ball on their own 32 yard line.

The Thunder found out that the rain had started themselves on the next play when Price mishandled the opening snap of the drive and Adrian’s Sam Madrid finished the play with a scoop and score giving the Bulldogs back the lead at 20-17.

Both team struggled to find footing on the next two drives, until another fumble by Adrian, this time forced and recovered by sophomore Zach Kornak (Hillsdale, Mich. / Hillsdale), set Trine up for another drive in Adrian territory. Price would finish off this drive himself giving the team the lead at 24-20 heading into halftime.

Trine started the second half with the ball and Price and Kirby traded rushes to move the ball deep into Adrian territory. Another rain related fumble pushed the team back after a first-and-goal from the eight and the team would settle for a field goal building their lead to 27-20.

Neither team found offensive success through most of the remaining third quarter. In their final drive of the period, the Thunder started to move the ball, and it carried over into the fourth quarter when Watson ripped off a 28-yard gain in on the first play. The Bulldogs came up with a goal line stand forcing a field goal attempt, which Hibbets put through the uprights to put the game at 30-20.

The Thunder defense continued to give Adrian’s offense fits recording a few more sacks and holding the opposition off the board. Watson would score his touchdown on the team’s final drive to pull ahead 36-20 with just over a minute remaining in the contest.

A strip-sack by sophomore Jamon Gibson (Toledo, Ohio / Central Catholic) iced the game for the Thunder and they bring on the victory formation to run out the clock.

All told the Thunder defense turned in a dominating performance, especially in the second half. They would finish the game with five sacks and allowed just 59 rushing yards. After the Bulldogs had some success in the first half moving the ball through the air, Trine responded by allowing just one completion in the second half.

The team improves to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) play. They will hit the road to face off with Olivet College in their next contest which is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9.

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