Thunder Beat Olivet to Finish As Sole MIAA Champions
Saturday Nov 11, 2017 12:00am
The Trine University football team captured sole possession of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship with a 28-6 win against Olivet (Mich.) College and finished the regular season undefeated on senior day at Zollner Athletic Stadium.
The Thunder won its fourth overall MIAA title and first since the 2010 season (2017, 2010, 2009, and 2008). Trine also finishes the regular season undefeated (10-0) for the third time since joining the NCAA having also accomplished the feat during the 2008 and 2010 campaigns.
Trine ended the game with 418 total yards of offense with 329 yards on the ground. It marked the eighth time this season that the Thunder have rushed for 300 yards or more against their opponents. Junior running back Lamar Carswell (Toledo, Ohio/St. Francis de Sales) recorded his sixth consecutive game with 100 yards or more with a game-high 183 yards on 23 carries (8.0 yards per rush) and had one touchdown.
Also for the sixth time this season, senior quarterback Evan Wyse (Archbold, Ohio/Archbold) gained 100 yards with his legs and his third straight game with 100 or yards or more. Wyse carried the ball 17 times for 100 yards (5.9 ypc.) and found the endzone twice on runs of 25 and 32 yards. Wyse also completed seven-of-13 passes for 89 yards.
Senior wide receiver Andrew Bonfiglio (Toledo, Ohio/St. Francis de Sales) led the team in receptions with three and had 26 yards. Junior Jeffery Barnett (Fremont, Ohio/Ross) led the team in receiving yards with 39 on two catches.
Defensively, Trine held Olivet to 296 yards of offense (62 rushing and 234 passing) while forcing three turnovers (one interception and two fumbles) and tallied seven sacks, tying the school's second-highest sack total in a game in program history. Junior safety J.J. Fierro (Kokomo, Ind./Maconaquah) led the way with a career-tying high seven tackles (four solo and three assists) in addition to a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception. Sophomore linebacker Simeon Washington (Toledo/Central Catholic) also had a big day defensively with six tackles, including three tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. Senior Me'Leick Miles (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) also posted two sacks on the day, bringing his career total to 19, one shy of tying the program's all-time mark (20).
After forcing Olivet (5-5, 3-3 MIAA) to punt on the first possession of the game, Trine (10-0, 6-0 MIAA) went 81 yards in eight plays to score its first touchdown of the contest on a hard fought 25-yard run by Wyse for his first TD of the day. The scoring play was set up by a 22-yard run by Carswell and back-to-back receptions of 15 and 13 yards by Bonfiglio earlier in the drive.
The two teams traded turnovers in the quarter, but neither squad could capitalize as the Thunder led, 7-0, after the first period.
On a possession that carried over into the second quarter, Trine got on the board again with a drive that featured Carswell as five out of the six plays were touches for the tailback that included a 43-yard scamper that later led to a seven-yard run for the score with 14:28 to go in the half and increase the Thunder lead to 14-0.
Later in the quarter, Trine added to its lead with a 23-yard field goal by sophomore Lucas Garza (Syracuse, Ind./Wawasee), to make it a 17-0 ball game and end a 13-play, 54-yard drive that lasted 6:43. The first half ended with a defensive exclamation point for Trine as Miles sacked the Olivet quarterback to send the two teams into the locker rooms with the Thunder leading, 17-0.
On Trine's second drive of the third quarter, Carswell got things rolling with a 40-yard run, but the possession would later stall and resulted in a 25-yard field goal by Garza to extend the margin to 20-0 with four minutes to go in the period. The Garza field goal were the only points scored in the frame as Trine headed into the fourth quarter with a 20-0 advantage.
Nearing the midway point of the final quarter, Wyse ran for his second TD of the game, this time on a 32-yard gallop, at the 5:52 mark. The Thunder went for the two-point conversion that saw Wyse find junior Elijah Klepper (Mendon, Mich./Mendon) in the back of the endzone for the extra points and make it a four possession game, 28-0.
Trine looked to be headed to a possible shut out victory, but the Comets got on the board as time expired on a 27-yard heave to end the shut out. But the score came a bit too late as the Thunder went on to the 28-6 victory and claimed the outright MIAA title.
Trine had already secured the MIAA automatic bid to the NCAA Division National Tournament going into the matchup against Olivet and will find out who and where it will play tomorrow (Sunday, Nov. 12) when the entire tournament field is announced at 5:30 p.m.