The Statesmen played tough on Saturday against top-ranked Mount Union in the NCAA Division III second-round game in Alliance, Ohio. But in the end, Hobart fell to the Purple Raiders 42-7 football and closed out their season with a respectable 9-2 mark.
Hobart senior linebacker Justin Hager recorded a game-high 20 tackles, one of his own game record. He’s the only Hobart player to record 20-plus tackles in a game more than once (twice). The effort raised his campaign total to 134, five more than Jesse Truley’s 13-year old season record.
“It’s a little bittersweet going out like that,” said Hager about his record breaking performance. “It got away from us in the second half. I wish we could have kept it close. It would have been interesting to see what happened.”
The Statesmen rushed for 104 yards, the second highest total against the Raiders this season. Sophomore running back Andrew Marlier led the ground game with 56. Senior quarterback Rich Doyle (7-21-1) threw for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Mount Union produced 503 yards of total offense, including 305 in the second half. Senior tailback Nate Kmic led the Raiders with 235 yards rushing and four touchdowns, breaking the NCAA Division III career rushing record, while senior quarterback Greg Micheli threw for 223 yards and two TDs.
Kmic scored on the Purple Raiders’ first two possessions. His 4-yard scamper capped the game’s opening drive, a 13-play, 60-yard march that took 6 minutes, 30 seconds off the clock.
Hobart managed one first down on its first drive, but was forced to punt. Mount Union took over at its own 46 and needed only two plays to score again. Micheli scrambled for 13 on first down and Kmic took it the rest of the way for a 41-yard TD and a 14-0 lead.
The Statesmen moved the ball 56 yards on the ensuing drive, but stalled out and had to settle for a 30-yard field goal attempt. A low snap and pressure from the left side, forced Conor Callahan’s kick to slide wide right.
Despite the rocky start, the Hobart defense tightened up, forcing back-to-back punts by the Raiders and Anthony Shaw’s sack and forced fumble of Micheli ended Mount Union’s final possession of the half. The Statesmen are the first team to hold the Raiders scoreless in a quarter other than the fourth (presumably when they let off the gas), while the 14 points mark the fewest for Mount Union in the opening 30 minutes this season.
The Raiders went three-and-out with their first possession of the second half, but got another Kmic scoring run to complete its next drive. MUC took its second drive 44 yards in seven plays with Division III’s all-time leading rusher taking it in from 4 yards out for a 21-0 lead.
Hobart responded with its lone scoring drive, covering 71 yards in 13 plays. The key play of the drive was a fake punt 24-yard completion from Tyler Vincent to Orlando Patterson that put the Statesmen in Mount Union territory. PJ Overdorf pulled in a 14-yard pass from Rich Doyle on the scoring play. Overdorf’s extra point made it a 21-7 game with 5:03 remaining in the third quarter.
Two and half minutes later, Kmic scored another 4-yard touchdown, capping a 6-play, 64-yard drive for a 28-7 lead. Mount Union scored on two of its final three possessions (taking a knee to run out the clock on the third) to break the game wide open.
Mount Union’s head coach and players were complimentary of the Statesmen in the postgame press conference.
“[Hobart] played very good defense,” Kmic said. “They were very physical. I got hit pretty hard a couple times. They had a lot of heart and played tough the whole game. I give them a lot of credit.”
“They were one of the toughest [teams we’ve faced],” sophomore free safety Chaz Jordan added from the defense’s perspective. “They had a big o-line … they ran the ball hard.”
“My compliments to Hobart for bringing a great effort, battling us with everything they had,” Mount Union Head Coach Larry Kehres added.