Big second half pulls Trine over Aurora

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AURORA, Ill. — The Trine football team pulled away with a big second half to defeat Aurora 55-27 in non-conference action Saturday afternoon at Vargo Field.

The second half effort turned a 26-20 halftime advantage into a rout as the Thunder scored the first 22 points of the game’s final 30 minutes. An explosive effort by the offense paced the victory. Trine averaged a school-record 11.1 yards per play, eclipsing the previous record set in 2010. The Thunder racked up 542 yards of total offense, 356 of which came on the ground. Lamar Carswell (Toledo, Ohio / St. Francis de Sales) averaged a school-record 15.5 yards per carry (10 or more attempts), rushing for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Trine improved to 2-1 with the victory. The Spartans fell to 1-2.

Trine’s explosive offense helped counter a huge disparity in time of possession. Aurora possessed the ball 41:41 to just 18:19 for the Thunder. However, the Spartans were able to average just 4.5 yards per play.

The game got off to an inauspicious start for the Thunder as a fumble on the opening kickoff set up Aurora with a short field. The Spartans capitalized with a 16-yard scoring strike from Geron Rodgers to Tyree Chaplin for a 7-0 lead just 1:04 into the contest.

Trine answered right back with the first of Carswell’s TD runs. The sophomore broke a 41-yarder to paydirt off a jet sweep to knot the score. Carswell topped 100 yards rushing for the third-straight game this season and the fifth time in his collegiate career. He entered today’s contest 12th in the nation in rushing yards.

Touchdown passes from Brandon Rooze (West Lafayette, Ind. / Benton Central) accounted for the next three Thunder scores, the first two of which answered Aurora field goals by Zac Mirabelli. On Rooze’s first TD, the senior stepped left out of the pocket to hit Scott McClellan (Huntington, Ind. / Huntington North) for a 29-yard strike. The TD catch was the first of McClellan’s career.

Rooze’s next TD toss came on a 3rd-and-10, as the senior hit Andrew Bonfiglio (Toledo, Ohio / St. Francis de Sales) in stride for an 80-yard touchdown. The strike tied for the second-longest passing play in school history. Bonfiglio had another big day receiving for the Thunder, hauling in nine passes for 123 yards and the TD. The junior entered the game 17th in the nation in receiving yards.

The final Rooze TD pass of the day made the score 26-13 with 7:49 to play in the second quarter. Rooze hit Elijah Klepper (Mendon, Mich. / Mendon) over the middle. Klepper lept to make the catch and broke a tackle to get into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

Rooze had an efficient day for the Thunder, as he completed 12-of-18 passes for 188 yards and the three touchdowns.

The Spartans cut the score to 26-20 going into the half. Rodgers connected on his second touchdown pass of the game, hitting Brandon Lucas for a 13-yard touchdown. Rodgers completed 13-of-26 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once.

Trine’s defense helped turn the tide as the Spartans reached first-and-goal from the one-yard line on the opening drive of the second half. The Thunder stuffed three straight plays to force a missed field goal, which the offense took advantage of immediately.

On  the ensuing drive, Carswell scampered in from 12 yards out. The two-point conversion made the score 34-20. The score was part of a run that saw the Thunder score 22 straight points to put the game out of reach.

An two-yard run by Evan Wyse (Archbold, Ohio / Archbold) increased the Trine lead to 41-20 early in the fourth quarter. Wyse provided a spark for the Thunder running game, racking up 49 yards on five carries. Included among his efforts was a 14-yard run on a third-and-long to set up a fourth-down conversion on the previous scoring drive.

Me’Leick Miles (Indianapolis, Ind. / Pike) capped off Trine’s run of 22 straight points, blocking a punt and returning it 15 yards for the touchdown. Miles has been a force on special teams in his career, with an additional six career blocked kicks to his credit. Miles’ first career TD gave the Thunder a 48-20 lead with 11:56 to play, effectively putting the game out of reach.

Aurora added a late touchdown when Ryan Koorndyke threw a 17-yard scoring pass to Kendall Lawson. Mark Wilson (Indianapolis, Ind. / Lawrence Central) added a 52-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes for the Thunder.

Taylor James (LaPorte, Ind. / LaPorte) led Trine’s defense with eight tackles. Kyle Wiswell (Three Rivers, Mich. / Mendon) added his first career interception on the final play of the first half.

The Thunder will enter its bye week before returning to action Saturday, Oct. 1 on Homecoming Saturday. Trine hosts Concordia (Ill.) at 1 p.m. in Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium.

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