TIFFIN, Ohio – On a windy Saturday afternoon at Mayer Field, Heidelberg University’s 28-14 win over Muskingum University was hardly a breeze.
Sophomore running back Cartel Brooks (Kokomo, IN/Galion) rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns, including a 78-yard scamper in the third quarter. Sophomore quarterback Michael Mees (North Ridgeville) was 11-for-22 passing for 133 yards, two touchdowns and a costly interception.
After a scoreless first quarter that featured eight punts, Muskingum (1-6, 1-5 OAC) took the lead on the first play of the second quarter. Muskingum cornerback Andrew Davis jumped in front of a pass from Mees at the Heidelberg 40-yard line and returned it down the sideline for a touchdown. Caleb Carpenter added the extra point, which made the score 7-0.
Heidelberg (7-0, 6-0 OAC), trailing for the first time all season, quickly answered. Brooks returned the ensuing kickoff into Muskingum territory. On second down, Mees found senior wide receiver Mario Escalante (Highland Hts., KY/Newport Central Catholic) for a 46-yard touchdown strike. Senior Dan Kilger (Novi, MI) added the extra point to tie the game.
After a Fighting Muskie punt, Heidelberg embarked on a 14 play, 80 yard touchdown drive that lasted 5:27. The drive, which culminated with a three-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Robert Gray (Cincinnati/North College Hill), is the longest scoring drive of the season for Heidelberg.
In the third quarter, Heidelberg pushed their lead to 21-7 when Brooks broke his first big gain of the day, a 78-yard touchdown rush.
Muskingum cut the lead to 21-14 when quarterback CJ Snider found the end zone from 24 yards out. Snider finished with 92 yards rushing and 182 yards passing.
To start the fourth quarter, Heidelberg stopped the Muskingum attack on two straight short-yardage plays. Running back Shane Dotson was tackled by Ben Poirier (Canton, MI) for no gain on third-and-one. On fourth-and-one, Dawson Gore (Bellevue) and Chadd Williamson (Land ‘O Lakes, FL) spun down Snider in the backfield for a loss of two yards.
On the following possession, the Student Princes faced a fourth-and-seven at the 10-yard line. After a timeout, Mees faked a handoff to the fullback Aaron Kapelka (Fostoria/Hopewell-Loudon) then flipped it wide to Brooks who scored. Kilger’s point-after put Heidelberg up 28-14 with 10:39 on the clock.
Following a three-and-out forced by the defense, Heidelberg worked nearly six minutes off the clock before they turned the ball over on downs.
The following Muskingum drive ended at the Heidelberg eight-yard line when time ran out.
“We’ve been able to rely on our defense all season long,” said head coach Mike Hallett. “Snider did a good job today, but our guys stood strong.”
Muskingum outgained Heidelberg 366-354 in total offense.
Brooks eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark during his 78-yard touchdown rush.
“That’s what happens when our line comes together,” said Brooks. “It happened today and it has happened all season.”
Defensively, Gore led Heidelberg with 10 tackles, which included 1.5 for loss. Heidelberg recorded three sacks on the day. For the first time all season, Heidelberg’s defense did not force a turnover.
Heidelberg, ranked No. 19 by D3football.com, improved to 7-0 for the first time since 1972. Next week, the Student Princes travel to No. 1 Mount Union. The kickoff between the two unbeaten teams is at 1:30 p.m.