ADRIAN, Mich.– Adrian thwarted Trine’s chances at a share of the MIAA title with a 38-24 victory over the Thunder Saturday afternoon at Docking Stadium.
The two teams entered the fourth quarter deadlocked in a 17-17 tie, but the Bulldogs made more plays down the stretch to outscore the Thunder 21-7 in the final stanza to earn the victory. Emmanuel Stewart rushed for 209 and three touchdowns on 21 carries to lead Adrian. Eli Villalobos’ 35-yard interception return for a touchdown in the closing minutes sealed the victory. For the second-consecutive season, Trine concludes the year 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the MIAA. The Bulldogs finished the season 7-3 overall, with an identical 4-2 mark in conference play.
Trine senior wide receiver Gage Corner (Leo, Ind./Leo) set a new single-season program record with 69 catches with his six-reception, 105-yard and one touchdown effort. Corner concluded his career with 2,527 receiving yards, just one yard shy of tying a school record. His 960 receiving yards this season are the third-most in team history.
Brandon Rooze (West Lafayette, Ind./Benton Central) completed 19-of-35 passes for 211 yards. Quarterback-turned-receiver Tyler Peoples (Glendale, Ariz./Independence) got in on the passing act with two completions for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Mark Wilson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central) pounded out 121 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Wilson was held under 100 yards in just one of his four starting assignments this season.
Adrian broke the 17-all tie on the first play of the fourth quarter when Stewart scored his second TD of the game on a 15-yard run. That drive answered an 18-play march by the Thunder that saw Mark Haydock (Fort Wayne, Ind./Snider) connect on a 19-yard field goal to tie the score.
The Thunder had the answer drive they needed to knot the score right back up. Wilson converted a big third-and-one with a run and Rooze later connected with Corner on a 17-yard pass to bring Trine within striking range. John Harris-Scott (Wesley Chapel, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch) found paydirt on the next play with an 11-yard scoring burst to knot the score at 24-apiece.
The Bulldogs once again marched down to take the lead. Stephen Milarch completed all five of his passing attempts on the drive, which Stewart capped with a seven-yard touchdown run to make the score 31-24 with 7:12 to play.
Milarch completed 16-of-23 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown.
Adrian’s defense stopped Trine on the ensuing possession, but the Thunder defense was able to return the favor to give Trine the ball back with a chance to tie. Mitchell Fair‘s (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty) third-down sack stuffed the Bulldog drive.
Fair capped off his senior season with another huge game, earning 2.5 sacks and making eight tackles. Fair’s 7.5 sacks this season were a career-high and are tied for the fifth-most in a season in Trine football history.
Trine took over with 2:08 to play needing a touchdown to extend the season, but Villalobos put a halt to those ideas with his interception return for a touchdown. The extra-point gave the Bulldogs the final 38-24 margin.
Peoples connected with Corner on a 33-yard touchdown strike and Wilson scored on a five-yard run to highlight the first half action for the Thunder. Trine converted 11-of-20 (55 percent) of its third-down attempts. Each team committed one turnover.
Michael Spears (Kendallville, Ind./East Noble) paced the Thunder defense with nine tackles. Spears concluded his career ranked fifth in team history with 266 career stops.
Trine head coach Troy Abbs concluded the season with the best record ever for a first-year coach in team history.