Week two of college football ended with Hope College’s first win of the season at home. The Hope College football team delivered on Community Day, defeating the Defiance Yellow Jackets 38-0. Ray and Sue Smith stadium was packed for the Home opener, with over 2,500 students, alumni, and community members attending the game.
OFFENSE: The Hope offense looked very good this week, putting up 435 total yards. They were led by Brandan Campbell (‘18), who ran for 89 yards and three touchdowns. In a gesture of respect, Campbell wore the number 22 jersey of his teammate and fellow rushing partner, Mike Miklusicak (‘18), who has been sidelined with a season ending ACL injury. Miklusicak rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored double-digit touchdowns in the 2016 season. Another stand-out on the field was transfer Mason Opple (‘20), who completed 15 passes on 22 attempts for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Opple seemed calm and poised in the pocket. He looked good scrambling around the defensive line and creating plays for his teammates. In all, Opple made 11 rushing attempts for 69 yards. Jake Kozlowski (‘18) led the wide receiving core with four catches for 56 yards and one touchdown. Hope kept the turnovers to a minimum, with no fumbles and only one interception from Mason Opple. This was a big improvement for the Hope offense, which last week against Monmouth turned the ball over three times.
DEFENSE: The Hope defensive front posted a shutout on Saturday, looking very good in all four quarters. The shutout was the first for the Hope football program on Community Day since 1978. The Flying Dutchmen held the Yellow Jacket’s offense to 127 total yards, and only 17 of those yards on the ground. The Dutchmen front seven dominated Defiance’s offensive line, posting eight sacks throughout the game. Outside of a few flashes of greatness from Defiance Quarterback Logan Mico, the Flying Dutchmen had an answer to anything Defiance threw at them. Hope linebacker Griffin Weigl (‘18) had a big day, having eight total tackles, one sack, and an interception. Other notable performances include defensive end Zach Telfor (‘18), who had seven tackles and one-and-a-half sacks, and Tate Knapp (‘19), who had six total tackles and two sacks.
KEY PLACES TO IMPROVE: Hope was not without its flaws this Saturday. One of the main flaws was Hope allowing Defiance to stay in the game. After the first half offensive blitz, Hope was completely shut down in the third quarter by a much weaker football team. When Hope begins their conference schedule, they will have to be able to finish opponents off when they get the chance. What the Flying Dutchmen also need to do in the coming weeks is capitalize on opportunities given to them. The Hope college defensive secondary had many opportunities to create turnovers in the passing game but failed to convert on many of them. This team will need to ramp things up and create more turnovers when Hope travels to Olivet in a couple of weeks.
The most important area that needs to improve is the offensive line’s pass blocking. The Dutchmen offensive line allowed a pedestrian Defiance D-line to sack Opple seven different times throughout the game. This can not be allowed, and Olivet and Adrian’s defensive lines are much stronger than Defiance’s. (Correction: The Dutchmen offensive line only allowed one sack during the Defiance game and recorded seven sacks).This should be a main focus in practice this week for the Flying Dutchmen.
CONSENSUS: While Hope looked very good, this result is not surprising. Hope is a much more talented football team and it showed on the field Saturday. Hope’s shutout was a big morale boost for the team. The production of the offense was well-rounded, rushing for 243 yards and throwing for 192 yards. Mason Opple’s efficient day at QB is a good sign for the Flying Dutchman’s future. However, missed opportunities and poor pass blocking allowed Defiance to stay in the game so much longer than they should have. Hope should have put this game out of reach by the third quarter, but they let Defiance stick around. However, this game is a huge step-up for Hope, who will now be primed to face bigger and better squads as the year rolls on. Next week’s opponent, Lakeland, will not be as easy a task as Defiance was. Lakeland is a strong program in Wisconsin that consistently puts together quality seasons. Hope will have their hands full against this high-performing group. The next home game will be on Saturday, Sept. 16 against the aforementioned Lakeland Muskies. This game will be the Purple Community game. Proceeds will be generously donated to the Van Andel Institute for research into biomedical solutions that could help cure cancer and many other neurodegenerative diseases. Make sure to come out this Saturday and cheer on Hope.