ANGOLA, IND. -- Special teams played a key role for the Trine University football team in the first half that led to a pair of scores en route to a 42-27 win against Adrian (Mich.) College in the regular-season home finale at Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium on senior day. The victory also clinches at least a share of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship for Trine.
Adrian dominated the first half of play, outgaining Trine, 298-101, in total offense. But a short kickoff that was mishandled by the Bulldogs and recovered by the Thunder following a Trine score and a kickoff return for a TD led to 14 points and kept the game tied at halftime. In a complete reversal in the second half, Trine held a 319-147 advantage in total yardage and outscored Adrian, 21-6. In addition, after being held to just 30 yards in the first half, senior Lamar Carswell (Toledo, Ohio/St. Francis de Sales) rushed for 229 yards in the final 30 minutes to record his fourth 200-yard rushing game of the season (253 yards).
To go along with his 253 yards on the ground, Carswell set Trine single-season marks for total touchdowns (30 - 28 rushing, two receiving), rushing TDs (28) and points scored (180). He also set a MIAA single-season record with most points scored against conference opponents with 120.
Two other players had record-setting performances against Adrian that included junior kicker Lucas Garza (Syracuse, Ind./Wawasee) who increased his consecutive made extra-point tries to 36 against MIAA opponents, setting a conference record in that category and surpassing former Trine kicker Jeremy Howard '10 who had a streak of 31 straight PATs during the 2010 season. The other record also came on special teams as senior Marcus Winters (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) became the program's all-time leader in punt return yardage with 622 yards for his career following his only punt return of 22 yards against the Bulldogs.
Trine ended the game with 419 yards of offense (333 rushing and 86 passing) with Carswell posting a game-high 259 yards on 26 carries (10.0 yards per carry) and three TD. Brandon Winters completed five-of-nine passes for 86 yards and two scores to go along with 57 yards on the ground. Barnett finished as the team's top receiver with two catches for 71 yards and a TD.
Defensively, Trine was led by junior Simeon Washington (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) who had a game and career-high 14 tackles (five solo and nine assists), including a half sack and tackle for loss. Fellow junior Jonathan Fierro (Kokomo, Ind./Maconaquah) was second on the team with nine stops (five solo and four assists). Marcus Winters ended the game with five tackles (five solo), an interception, a pass breakup and blocked an extra point attempt.
Adrian (4-5, 2-4 MIAA) scored on its first two possessions of the game to lead Trine (9-0, 6-0 MIAA), 14-0, in the first quarter. The Thunder then got on the board with a quick, two-play drive that included a 14-yard run by Brandon Winters which he followed with a 51-yard TD strike to Barnett with 4:37 remaining in the period. On the ensuing kickoff, Trine kicked the ball short, which was mishandled by Adrian and recovered by the home team that led to a 22-yard TD run by Carswell to even the game at 14-14 after the first quarter.
The Bulldogs regained the lead late in the second period with a touchdown with 15 seconds to go that was set up by Trine fumble in its own territory. Adrian attempted a short kickoff of its own following the score which was picked up by Barnett and returned it 79 yards for the score to even the game at 21-21 at the break. The TD return was Barnett's third of the season.
In the second half, the Trine offense found its stride and outgained Adrian, 319-147 in total offense. The Thunder also responded with 21 points and held the Bulldogs to just six points. Trine made a statement early after receiving the opening kickoff and on the second play from scrimmage, Carswell broke free for a 55-yard TD run that put the Thunder ahead, 28-21.
Two possessions later, Trine found the endzone again, this time with Marcus Winters' second TD toss of the game when he found junior tight end Damon Munn (Franklin, Ind./Franklin) open for a second-yard TD to make the score 35-21 with 2:36 to go in the period. The two scores by Trine were the only points of the third quarter as the Thunder took a 14-point advantage into the final quarter.
Both teams traded TD in the fourth, beginning with Carswell's third touchdown run of the game with a 13-yard scamper on the first play of the quarter to make it a 42-21 ball game. Adrian answered on its ensuing drive with a TD that capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive. The extra point try was then blocked by Trine's Marcus Winters who came off the edge untouched to keep the final score in favor of the home team, 42-27.
Trine will look to capture its second-straight outright MIAA title when it travels to Kalamazoo, Mich. to take on the Hornets in the MIAA and regular-season finale next Saturday, Nov. 10. The game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.