Last Saturday, the Hope College football team played a strong game against Defiance College (Ohio), winning 41-0. This is the second consecutive year in which the team has shut out Defiance, a back to back feat which has not been achieved in 21 years for the team.
The Flying Dutchmen won last year with a score of 38-0. Peter Stuursma, head coach of the Flying Dutchmen, shared some words on the game: “Winning in college football is hard, so we will take the win, but we have a long way to go and a lot to improve upon. We’re going to enjoy the next 24 hours and then get back to work to keep creating a winning atmosphere.” Stuursma’s positive attitude and drive toward winning supports Hope’s second place finish in the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll. With five offensive starters and six defensive players returning this season, the team looks forward to playing hard to beat last year’s 8-2 season record.
A total of 45 players on Hope’s team were able to play against Defiance, giving the team a chance to test different combinations of athletes on the field. “This is always a good learning opportunity for [the players],” Stuursma commented. “And a chance for [the coaching staff] to see what we have and can keep improving upon.” Hope scored most of their points in the first half of the game with Mason Opple, a junior quarterback, scoring in the first Hope drive of the game. Opple continued to take every chance he could to score, ending the game with a career-high of four rushing touchdowns.
The team’s defense also excelled throughout the game, holding Defiance to 84 yards total. Senior Tate Knapp and junior Mason Dekker both came out of the game having sacked players. Junior Conner Nemmers intercepted the ball in the third quarter, setting up the team for their final touchdown, which was completed by junior Cooper Cecchini with his 23 yard return. Senior Logan Shadaia was the other player to score on a touchdown during the game. Senior Vinnie Pelione played a large supporting role, rushing 103 yards throughout the game, his first 100-yard game. Senior Kyle Krumm contributed to the shutout score, intercepting the ball late in the fourth quarter to take Defiance’s last possession.
Making that last interception was key in keeping Defiance from getting any points up on the board. Next week, the Flying Dutchmen will play on Saturday against Wisconsin Lutheran College in their last non-league game of the season. Make sure to congratulate football players on their big win!