TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology scored 24 first quarter points to earn a 31-20 Homecoming victory over Hanover College on Saturday afternoon.
Junior Kyle Kovach (Munster/Andrean) led the Fightin' Engineer offense with 124 yards on 36 carries, including a 49-yard touchdown run that gave the Engineers a 7-0 lead. Junior Mitch Snyder (Casey, Ill./Westfield) balanced the attack with a 12-25 effort for 112 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Rose-Hulman relied on its defense and special teams for key plays in the victory. The special teams helped the Engineers earn a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter, when freshman Grant DePalma (Mount Prospect, Ill./Prospect) blocked a Hanover punt that was returned seven yards for a touchdown by junior Alex Sonneberger (Edon, Ohio).
Defensively, the Fightin' Engineers forced five turnovers and recorded seven sacks to earn the hard fought victory. Senior Matt Green (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) led the defensive effort with 15 tackles, including 11 solo efforts, three pass breakups and two sacks.
Other key contributors to the defensive effort included sophomore Dean Griffing (Plano, Ill./Aurora Christian) with seven tackles, four tackles-for-loss, one fumble recovery and two hurries; senior Ben Parker (Fillmore/South Putnam) with a career-high 2.5 sacks; sophomore T.J. Chin (Morehead, Ky./Rowan County) and sophomore Josh Yoder (Carmel) with fumble recoveries; and senior Bobby Short (Martinsville, Ill.) and sophomore Cody Rivers (Coconut Creek, Fla./Monarch) with interceptions.
Junior Eric Schaible (Findlay, Ohio) added a historic punting performance by tying school records with 11 punts for 424 yards, including a school record six punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
Hanover also had its moments offensively, with C.J. Croft leading the Panthers in a 21-43 passing performance with 302 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 72 yards on 13 carries. Dwayne Eubanks led the receivers with five receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
The victory also marked the first career NCAA coaching victory for first-year Rose-Hulman head coach Jeff Sokol.
After Rose-Hulman built its 14-0 first quarter lead on the Kovach score and punt block touchdown, Snyder connected with freshman Dominic Sena (Moss Beach, Calif./Half Moon Bay) on a diving 24-yard touchdown pass to give the Engineers a 21-0 first quarter edge.
Senior Nick Schneider (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) moved into second place on Rose-Hulman's career field goal list with his 23rd kick from 28 yards out to give the Engineers a 24-0 lead after a frantic first quarter.
Hanover closed to within 24-17 at halftime on two Croft to Eubanks touchdown passes of 42 and 29 yards, and a 21-yard field goal by Dylan Dunlop.
Rose-Hulman relied on a clutch reception off a tipped pass to move ahead by a 31-17 margin. Junior Parris Gray (Richmond) caught a double tipped pass and sprinted 23 yards for a touchdown to give the Engineers a two-score lead early in the second half.
Hanover added a 39-yard field goal from Dunlop in the first minute of the fourth quarter, but clutch defensive plays from forced pressure and an offense able to run the clock in the final quarter allowed Rose-Hulman to earn the victory.
Rose-Hulman improved to 1-2 overall and 1-0 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play with the victory. Hanover dropped to 1-3 and 1-1 in league contests. The Fightin' Engineers travel to Manchester College on Saturday.