While the final numbers might not show it, the Defiance College football team did show improvement in a 42-0 loss to Hanover on homecoming weekend at Coressel Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets were put in a tough spot three plays into the game. Stuck in a fourth-and-2 from their own 34, Defiance elected to try to get the first down. The run play lost yardage, giving the ball to Hanover just 32 yards from the endzone.
“Lets take a shot and if we get it, we’ll keep going,” was Defiance coach Manny Matsakis, going through the thought process of the decision. “It was one of those things.”
The Panthers needed eights plays to travel the distance, with Shawn Coane going the final two yards for the touchdown. Hanover made it 14-0 after a three-and-out from Defiance when Noah Wezensky hit Conner Gibson on an 18-yard scoring strike.
Defiance did force a turnover late in the quarter when Devon Thomas hit Wezensky, and the Hanover quarterback lost the ball. On the fumble, the Yellow Jackets came away with the football. They were looking to cash in with a score, but a pass at the front pylon of the endzone was ruled incomplete, and on fourth down a pass into the endzone was juggled and also ruled incomplete.
“Our offense is still struggling to finish drives,” admitted Matsakis. “We’re one of those young teams who needs to make a good play to have a series of good plays to happen. We’re not mature enough to go out and make things happen.
“That first half, we were going back and forth,” added Matsakis. “We were shooting ourselves in the foot enough times where it easily could have been a 14-14 game. We had some dropped balls that affected the first half of the game. It is what it is. The ball didn’t bounce our way that particular time.”
Wezensky needed help from the Hanover trainers on the fumble and did not play the rest of the game.
“We had different guys step up and make plays on defense,” said Matsakis. “I applaud their effort and desire. I know they are going to be pretty good down the road.”
Hanover scored to start and close the second quarter. AJ Breit scored from a yard out, just a handful of plays into the stanza, then with 1.2 seconds left, Alex Fabert hit Jared Frank for a 7-yard score. It closed an 83-yard drive that Hanover completed in one minute, 30 seconds.
Steven Lucas intercepted an errant Hanover pass to stop the initial second-half drive of the Panthers.
“I saw our defense greatly improve in the first half,” said Matsakis. “I thought our guys fought hard and played hard.”
Breit added a 6-yard scoring run in the third quarter and Jake Namisnak scored from five yards out in the fourth quarter to close the scoring.
Defiance (0-6, 0-3 HCAC) has a week off before heading to Franklin.
First Downs 29 8
Rush-Yds 44-190 40-132
Passing Yds 222 50
Total Yds 412 182
Passing 21-28-1 3-13-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties 1-15 8-59
Hanover 14 14 7 7 – 42
Defiance 0 0 0 0 – 0
H – Coane 1-run (Steurer kick).
H – Gibson 18-pass from Wezensky (Steurer kick).
H – Breit 1-run (Steurer kick).
H – Frank 7-pass from Fabert (Steurer kick).
H – Breit 6-run (Steurer kick).
H – Namisnak 5-run (Steurer kick).
RUSHING: Hanover – Coane 19-102; Ballinger 10-46; Breit 5-19; Namisnak 5-11; Weimer 1-7; Fabert 2-5; Gibson 1-4; Wezensky 1-(-4). Defiance – Washington 11-70; Wilkins 8-17; Caballero 6-14; Jennings 8-13; Geiger 1-10; Harris 2-4; Shaheed 2-3; Ponder 2-1. PASSING: Hanover – Fabert 7-9-87-0; Wezensky 7-8-80-0; Breit 5-9-50-1; Weimer 2-2-5-0. Defiance – Washington 3-13-50-0. RECEIVING: Hanover – Gibson 6-90; Coane 6-64; Ballinger 1-16; Frank 2-15; Kuerzi 1-13; Fabert 1-10; Pica 1-8; Namisnak 1-6; Daugherty 1-1; Head 1-(-1). Defiance – Santora 1-19; Geiger 1-17; Mcnary 1-14.