DEFIANCE, OHIO -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology scored 33 points in the middle two quarters and held off a Defiance College rally to earn a 33-20 victory in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference football opener for both schools on Saturday.
Senior Mitch Snyder (Casey, Ill./Casey-Westfield) threw two first half touchdown passes and the Engineers relied on two key defensive stands to take a 12-0 lead into the intermission.
Snyder connected with freshman Jacob Dye (Tipton) on a 45-yard strike with 12:43 left in the first half to give Rose-Hulman a 6-0 lead. The pass capped a nine-play, 77-yard drive that featured a 12-yard third down pass from Snyder to freshman Aaron Abbott (Lebanon, Ohio) to keep the drive alive.
Snyder hooked up with Abbott on a 25-yard scoring strike to push Rose-Hulman's lead to 12-0 at the intermission. The four-play, 71-yard drive started with a 30-yard run by Abbott.
Two key defensive stands helped Rose-Hulman hold the lead at the break. Defiance reached the Engineer one-yard line before a key six-yard loss on a tackle by junior Marcus Tucker (Indianapolis/Cardinal Ritter) and junior John Burt (West Terre Haute/West Vigo) (pictured) forced a 29-yard field goal attempt. Freshman Dane Irving (Newark, N.J.) then blocked the field goal to keep the Yellow Jackets scoreless.
In the final 10 seconds of the first half, Defiance reached the 10-yard line with a fourth-and-three situation. The Yellow Jackets reached the three-yard line on a fourth down conversion, but a tackle by Burt forced the clock to hit zero before the next play.
Rose-Hulman scored 14 points in 59 seconds to push the lead to 26-0 midway through the third quarter. Senior Kyle Kovach (Munster/Andrean) scored on a three-yard touchdown at the 11:46 mark, with the score pushed to 19-0 on an extra point by freshman Craig Larew (Indianapolis/Lawrence North). The scoring march featured two third-down conversions.
Three plays later, Burt again emerged as the hero with a 20-yard interception return for his first college touchdown. Larew's extra point gave Rose-Hulman a 26-0 lead with 10:47 left in the third quarter.
Rose-Hulman's lead grew to 33-0 with 2:35 left in the third quarter. Abbott scored from 29 yards out, and Larew's extra point capped a 33-point span in the middle two quarters.
Defiance put on a fourth quarter rally to move the score within 33-20 as the final. Aaron Smith scored on touchdowns of five and three yards, with an 80-yard pass from Garrett Teague to Jon Carrabino also included in the scoring.
Snyder finished 12-26 through the air for 149 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for the Engineers. Kovach gained 88 rushing yards on 33 carries with one score, and Abbott rushed for 73 yards on four carries and a touchdown.
Dye led the receiving corps with 91 yards on six catches and one touchdown, with Abbott contributing four receptions for 35 yards and a score. The game marked the second straight week that Abbott has rushed for a touchdown and made a scoring reception.
Defensively, freshman Anthony Adamo (Chino, Calif.) led the effort with 12 tackles. Senior Jordan Martin (Shelbyville/Triton Central) pitched in with 11 tackles.
Burt emerged as a defensive standout with a career game included 10 tackles, an interception return for a touchdown and two key tackles inside the 10-yard line that kept Defiance off the scoreboard in the opening 30 minutes. Junior Craig Voges (Huntingburg/Forest Park) also tallied eight tackles on the day.
An unsung hero in the contest was junior punter Eric Schaible (Findlay, Ohio), who had one of the best days of his career. Schaible averaged 47.2 yards per punt on six boots, including punts downed at the one and three-yard lines.
Rose-Hulman improved to 1-2 on the season and 1-0 in conference play, while Defiance dropped to 0-3. The Fightin' Engineers host Manchester in the annual Homecoming Game on Saturday at 2 p.m.