MARIETTA – A four-hour bus ride and an unfamiliar start time did not derail the Heidelberg University football team on Saturday. The Student Princes continued to steamroll their competition, upending Marietta College 68-17.
Playing their first night game since 2011, Heidelberg racked up 629 yards of offense. In doing so, the Berg scored touchdowns on eight consecutive possessions for the third straight game.
Junior quarterback Michael Mees threw a career-high five touchdowns on just 13-of-18 passing for 180 yards.
Heidelberg (4-0, 3-0 OAC) scored first on a 4-yard touchdown reception by Derek Hug. After a Marietta punt, Cartel Brooks scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 15-yard rush.
Mitchell Kelly intercepted a pass from Marietta’s Tom Fulton on the Pioneer’s second possession. Brooks converted the turnover into a touchdown, this time from a yard out. A bad snap on the point after attempt made the score 20-0.
Still in the first quarter, Ryan Fischer returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown, his second punt return TD of the season.
Early in the second quarter, Mees found Josh Lynch for a four-yard touchdown. Dan Kilger’s extra point gave HU a 34-0 lead.
Marietta (0-4, 0-3 OAC) put points on the board in the subsequent possession. The Pioneers moved the ball on the ground with running backs Roger Bush and Tim Conner. Their carries set up a 40-yard field goal by Garret Butler. Conner finished with 105 yards, the first 100-yard rusher allowed by Heidelberg this year.
Undaunted, the Berg offense scored two plays later. Mees connected with reigning OAC Offensive Player of the Week Donteea Dye for a 44-yard touchdown.
The Pioneers answered quickly. On the ensuing kickoff, Conner bobbled the ball at his 7 yard line, picked it up and knifed through the Berg coverage team for a 93-yard touchdown.
Heidelberg continued to score, though. Fischer caught a 4-yard pass from Mees and gave Heidelberg a 48-10 lead.
Will Nunnally forced a fumble on the next Pioneer possession. On the resulting drive, Nick DeLisa scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Mees. DeLisa finished with 141 all-purpose yards, including 131 yards on four kickoff returns.
The Pioneers closed out the scoring in the first half on a beautiful 39-yard pass from Fulton to Kirby Harris.
Heidelberg’s Stephen Smith opened the scoring in the third quarter with a 32-yard field goal. Smith, the starting punter, did not attempt a punt.
Later in the quarter, backup quarterback Jon Sandwisch threw his only touchdown pass, a 49-yard strike to Jay Smallwood on 3rd-and-18. It was Smallwood’s first collegiate touchdown. Sandwisch finished with a touchdown, an interception and 88 yards on 3-of-6 passing.
A.J. Morrison’s 28-yard field goal with 5:29 to play closed the scoring.
“It was our first travel game – a long trip, a night game, and our guys handled it well,” said head coach Mike Hallett. “Everything we asked them to do, they did very, very well.”
The 68 points and 629 yards of offense are season-highs for the potent offense. Through the first four games, HU has averaged 60.2 points per game.
With last week’s 66-12 victory over Wilmington, Heidelberg has scored 60-plus points in consecutive weeks for the first time in school history. The only other team to surpass 60 points twice in the same season was the 1948 squad, which was Paul “The Fox” Hoernemann’s first OAC champion team.
The Student Princes return home to Mayer Field on October 12. They will host Capital University on Homecoming and Hall of Fame Day. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.