Hope College linebacker Aaron O’Meara (’17), defensive-back Mason Rosado (’18) and a host of Flying Dutchmen tacklers would not be denied as they came up with huge stop on fourth down in the final minute of their victory over Albion College on Saturday. The win gives Hope a 6-3 overall record and a 5-1 record in the MIAA. Hope went winless in the conference last season, which means that their improvement from 0-6 to 5-1 is one of the best one-year turnarounds in MIAA history.
Once again, Hope’s rushing attack was the story of the game as they picked up 242 yards on the ground, including a 54-yard touchdown by running back Brandan Campbell (’18) to open the scoring. Hope took a 13-0 lead into halftime as kicker Darren Ford (’19) made field goals of 24 and 46 yards in the first half. Ford hit another 46-yard field goal on Hope’s first drive of the second half to give the Dutchmen a 16-0 lead. The Britons then proceeded to score 13 unanswered points, only to be stopped on fourth-and-two from Hope’s 29-yard line in the final minute.
Campbell led the Hope offense, rushing for 162 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Mike Miklusicak (’18) carried 20 times for 73 yards. Quarterback Michael Custer completed six passes for 91 yards and an interception.
Hope’s Defense also shined, giving up only 50 rushing yards to the Britons. Leading the way for the Dutchmen was Rosado with eight tackles, followed by Kyle Krumm (’19) and Jacob Pardonnet (’18) who both had five tackles. Krumm also had an interception. This is nothing new to the Dutchmen, who allowed less than 100 rushing yards to its opponent for the fourth time this season. Hope’s defense has played a huge part in their five game winning streak, allowing only 10.8 points per game in the MIAA.
Even though Hope has been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, they still can claim a share of the conference title if Trine University can upset Olivet College this Saturday. The Dutchmen have a lot to be proud of in Coach Peter Stuursma’s first year. After a slow start, they have ripped off 5 straight wins and are playing great football. Coach Stuursma also has a lot to look forward to next year and beyond as many freshmen and underclassmen are getting playing time and contributing to the team. One of the most effective freshmen has been Cooper Cecchini (’20), who is Hope’s leading receiver. Cecchini has hauled in 24 receptions for 350 yards and a touchdown. Look for Cecchini to have a big game in the season finale to cap off a great freshman season. Hope will finish up their season against Concordia University-Wisconsin at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will also be Senior Day, which means all seniors on the team will be honored before the game. Come out and support your football team, especially the seniors!