TIFFIN, Ohio—The Heidelberg University football team opened the 2011 season this afternoon with a 34-28 win in overtime against non-conference foe Alma (Mich.) College in front of 1,675 fans at Mayer Field in Tiffin. Battling 93-degree heat and overwhelming humidity, the Student Princes overcame six turnovers and 13 penalties before claiming the victory. Freshman quarterback Michael Mees (North Ridgeville) came off the bench to lead the Student Princes on five scoring drives and sophomore second-team All-OAC running back Germany Woods (Cleveland/Lakewood St. Edward) rushed for a game-high 173 yards to carry the Berg to victory.
The win improves the Berg to 1-0 for the fifth consecutive season under head coach Mike Hallett, while the loss drops Alma to 0-1.
“It was an outstanding effort overcoming the heat,” said. “I am very proud of our guys fighting through and finding a way to win. Our defense answered the call today and created many opportunities for our team. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys showing perseverance.”
Despite three turnovers in the first quarter, the offense found its groove in the second period. Junior running back Brad Jones (Lorain/Southview) provided the first points of the season, catching a 29-yard touchdown pass from Mees at the 6:34 mark. Junior placekicker Dan Kilger (Novi, Mich./Novi), who only joined the team this past week, added the extra point for a 7-0 Student Prince lead. The touchdown pass was the first of Mees’ career.
In the third stanza, Heidelberg extended its lead to 14-0 with 10:54 remaining when Mees found sophomore fullback Aaron Kapelka (Fostoria/Hopewell-Loudon) for a five-yard touchdown pitch-and-catch. Kilger’s point-after-touchdown was good.
Alma countered with a one-yard quarterback sneak by Jarrett Leister and a Michael Reeves PAT cut the Berg lead to 14-7 with 3:48 left.
Woods answered back just 46 seconds later after breaking loose for a 66-yard touchdown scamper, capping an 82-yard drive that took just two plays. Kilger’s point-after try failed, making the score 20-7.
Leister again scored on a five-yard run with just 24 seconds left in the third period, the third touchdown scored inside of four minutes. Reeves extra point cut the deficit to 20-14.
Both teams traded punts and turnovers early in the fourth quarter before the Scots broke the stalemate with just over five minutes to play, as Leister found Barak Henderson open for a 41-yard touchdown pass to tie the score, 20-20. Reeves extra point gave Alma it first lead of the day at 21-20.
Heidelberg answered the call on a five-play, 67-yard drive that took just 1:42 off the clock when Mees hit senior wide receiver CJ Powell (Detroit, Mich./Bishop Foley) for a 51-yard touchdown aerial with only 3:21 left in the game. Hallett elected to go for the two-point conversion, a decision that paid dividends when senior tight end Jozey Hill (Bloomington, Ind./Bloomington North) caught a pass from Mees, allowing the Tri-Color to regain the lead, 28-21.
Leister set up another Scot touchdown with a 72-yard pass to Henderson, who was brought down at the Heidelberg eight-yard line. Leister later scored on a three-yard run with 1:41 remaining and a Reeves extra point tied the score, 28-28. Neither team could score before time expired, sending the game into overtime.
Alma’s first possession in the extra period ended when sophomore free safety Chadd Williamson (Land O’ Lakes, Fla./Land O’ Lakes) intercepted Leister’s pass at Heidelberg’s three-yard line.
Following a four-yard run by Woods to Alma’s 21-yard line, Hallett called timeout to set up the winning play. Mees again tossed to Powell for the score, a 21-yard touchdown pass, Mees’ fourth of the day.
In his first career game, Mees was 21-of-40 through the air for 275 yards and four touchdowns against just one interception. Woods’ 173 rushing yards came on just 16 carries. Ten different student princes notched receptions, led by Powell, who hauled in five balls for 99 yards.
Defensively, senior honorable mention All-OAC linebacker Andy Fadenholz (Grafton/Keystone) led the charge with 16 tackles, including 2.0 sacks and three tackles for loss. Junior linebacker Craig Sykes (Centerburg) and senior defensive lineman Steven Carozza (Orrville) also tallied double-digit tackles with 11 and 10 stops, respectively.
The Student Princes will enjoy an open date next Saturday, Sept. 10 before traveling to Berea, Ohio to take on Baldwin-Wallace College (1-0). The game will be telecast on tape delay by SportsTime Ohio. The Yellow Jackets defeated The College of Wooster, 23-0, Thursday evening.