Thunder Clinch Share of MIAA Title

Thunder Clinch Share of MIAA Title

ALMA, MICH.  --  The Trine University football team clinched at least a share of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship with a 41-6 win against Alma (Mich.) College on a rain-soaked afternoon in Alma, Mich.

Junior running back Lamar Carswell (Toledo, Ohio/St. Francis de Sales) surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second straight season (1,161 yards in 2017) with his 217 yards (15.5 yards per carry) against Alma as the Thunder ran for 352 total yards on the ground.  It marks his second straight game with 200 or more rushing yards. 

Senior quarterback Evan Wyse (Archbold, Ohio/Archbold) also rushed for over 100 yards with 107 on 14 carries (7.6 ypc.) to go along with one touchdown.  It was also his second straight game with at least 100 yards rushing and fifth overall this season.  In addition, Wyse completed six-of-11 passes for 125 yards and a TD. 

Junior Jeffery Barnett (Fremont, Ohio/Ross) caught three passes for 40 yards.  Freshman Essa Kellah (Wyoming, Mich./Godwin Heights) caught one catch which was a 49-yard reception.

Defensively, Trine had two players record 10 or more tackles, led by senior Robert Riley (Mendon, Mich./Mendon) who had a career-high 14 stops (two solo and 12 assists) to go along with a half tackle for loss.  It was his second consecutive game with 10 or more tackles.  Junior Zach DeMeester (Coldwater, Mich./Coldwater) was the other player in double figures in tackles with a season-high 10 stops (two solo and eight assists).

Alma (4-5, 1-4 MIAA) struck first with a touchdown on its opening possession of the game with a three-yard touchdown run to grab an early lead.  The Scots went for the two-point conversion, but did not convert, making it a 6-0 game.  The Alma touchdown was the only points scored after the first 15 minutes.

In a drive that carried over into the second quarter, Trine (9-0, 5-0 MIAA) drove inside the Alma five-yard line on its first possession of the game, but would fall short on a fourth-and-goal play at the Scot one-yard line to keep the score, 6-0. The Thunder then capitalized on their next drive that began at the Alma 25-yard line after an 18-yard punt following the goal line stand with a one-yard TD run by Carswell.  The extra point attempt was missed, resulting in a 6-6 tie with 12:10 lef to play in the half.

Trine forced Alma to a fourth down after the Carswell TD and got excellent field position as an errant pooch-kick attempt by Alma that hit a lineman gave the Thunder possession at the Alma 29-yard line. But the opportunity resulted in no points, keeping the game tied at 6-6.  Later in the quarter, Trine looked to take the lead on a 39-yard field goal attempt, but the kick hit the left upright and fell forward into the endzone for no points. Neither team would have any additional scoring opportunities as the teams went into the locker rooms deadlocked at 6-6.

Trine wasted no time scoring to begin the third quarter when Carswell found paydirt for the second time in the game with a 28-yard run to end a five-play, 65-yard drive that took 1:48 and put the Thunder ahead on the scoreboard, 13-6.  Carswell struck again on the Thunder's next possession that was set up by a fumble recovery at their own 23-yard line when he scampered for a 74-yard TD to make it a 20-6 advantage with 8:12 to go in the quarter.  Trine kept the momentum going when it recovered an on-side kick on the ensuing kickoff.  On the very next play, Wyse found Kellah on a 49-yard TD completion to pad the lead to 27-6 with 7:31 to go.

The Thunder continued to dominate the third quarter when junior Cayleel Hill (Owings Mills, Md./Owings Mills) ended the ensuing Scot drive with his eighth interception of the season, tying the Trine single-season record.  The turnover would turn into no points for Trine, however, but the Thunder still led, 27-6, after three quarters of play.

In the fourth quarter, Trine put the game away when Wyse scored on a one-yard run with 12:32 to play on a drive that included a 37-yard run by Wyse, making the score, 34-6.  Carswell tacked on another score at the 6:32 mark for his fourth TD of the day on a 44-yard run to make it a 41-6 game.  The Carswell TD would be the final of the game as Trine stayed unbeaten on the season with a 41-6 victory against Alma.

Trine will go for the undefeated regular-season and an outright MIAA Championship next Saturday, Nov. 11 when it hosts Olivet (Mich.) College at Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium on senior day.  Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.