Written by: Ryan Cuddy
College football has finally arrived in the great state of Michigan. It’s a different kind of feeling in the air when football is around, and especially at Adrian College this past weekend. There are 247 NCAA Division 3 football teams in the entire country, and the first to host a football game in this everchanging 2020 year were the Adrian College Bulldogs.
The Adrian College football team took the field this past Saturday afternoon inside a compressed capacity on Kapnick Field in Docking Stadium. The Bulldogs played host to the visiting Trine Thunder, who represent the pride of Angola, IN. The Bulldogs and the Thunder, who are both a part of the MIAA, played in technically an “out of conference” game, meaning that the game will not affect either of their conference records for the year. The first matchup in this strange 2020 was a very evenly played game.
The visiting Thunder came out on top with a score of 44-27, which at first glance looks fairly lopsided, however, it really was not that at all. There were a couple of key special team mistakes made by the bulldogs that gave the Thunder the advantage. In the first quarter with still 10:51 remaining, the first score was by the Thunder special teams.The bulldogs sent out their special team unit to attempt a short field-goal like kick in hopes for three points and to get on the board for the first time in 2020. However, a bad snap forced the holder to not have a clean exchange to tee the ball up for kicker Cooper West, which resulted in the timing being messed up and West had to pause for a split second after the snap which allowed the defensive line to break through and block the kick. The Thunder’s Aaron Dean picked up the ball and returned the blocked kick 84 yards to the house to put the Thunder up 6-0, then kicker Ike Sheehan split the uprights and made it 7-0. Trine later in the first quarter had an 8 play drive that resulted in a 7 yard touchdown from Xaine Kirby.
Afterwards, the Thunder and Bulldogs traded scores for the majority of the first half, however the Bulldogs were able to get a stop and late in the second quarter they scored which put the bulldogs just down 28-20. However, looking to cut the lead down to 7 with the extra point, Cooper West couldn’t convert on the extra point and the Bulldogs were down 8 heading into the half after their second special teams mistake. With three minutes and some change remaining in the third quarter, Jimmie Clark caught a 25 yard touchdown pass from Jack Wurzer, Wurzer’s third of the day and put the bulldogs down two points.
With still being in the third quarter and lots of time remaining in the game, head coach Jim Deere made the decision to go with the extra point and put the bulldogs down one instead of risking it and going for two to tie it up. With Cooper West converting the extra point, Adrian was down just 28-27. Then the very next drive the Trine Thunder went 65 yards on just 4 plays to find the endzone. A 42 yard strike sent from Alex Price to Kale Lawson who beat the cornerbacks over the top of the defense was how the Thunder found the endzone to extend their lead, and with the extra point being converted Trine went up 35-27. A score that remained constant for close to the rest of the game.
Then, with just about three minutes remaining, Xaine Kirby found paydirt to extend the lead to 42-27 for the visiting Thunder. Then with just under a minute and a half left in the game and down 2 possessions, the bulldogs who were already backed up deep in their own redzone, took a safety on a Jack Wurzer fumble that went out of the side of the endzone. That left the score at 44-27, which stood until all zeroes were on the clock.
The score may seem to tell a different story, but just a few mistakes from the Bulldogs is what separated them with the Thunder. 2020 is still throwing everybody curveballs seemingly every day, but seeing football on the Adrian College campus was a breath of fresh air and a hint of normalcy for everyone.