RICHMOND, Ind. - The Mount St. Joseph offense has been among the best in Division III thus far this season and that trend continued in a 59-2 victory over Earlham on Saturday. The Lions defense and special teams more than held up their end in this one, holding the Quakers under 100 total yards in the game.
Earlham opened the game with the ball, and the Lions defense forced a quick 3-and-out. Thats when last years Division III leader in punt return average Troy Speakman (Grove City, Ohio/Central Crossing) took the Earlham punt 67 yards for a touchdown, getting the Lions out to a quick 7-0 lead. The Lions offense finally got going on their second drive of the game as Chaiten Tomlin (Mt. Orab, Ohio/Western Brown) found Chase Pankey (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller) on an 81-yard touchdown pass, the drive only lasted two plays and :49 seconds.
The Lions found the endzone again on the next drive, this time after a lengthy 10-play, 74-yard drive. Tomlin this time found Grayson Roberts (Cincinnati, Ohio/Reading) for a 3-yard score, Tomlin was 6-for-8 for 63 yards on the drive. Carrying a 21-0 lead into the second quarter the Lions proceeded to outscore the Quakers 17-0 in quarter number two, taking a 38-0 lead into the intermission.
It was much of the same for the Lions offense in the third quarter. Scoring 21 unanswered points to open the second half. After the first score of the second half, the Lions turned this game over to the younger players on the depth chart. Backup QB Deric Williamson (Grove City, Ohio/Central Crossing) threw his first and second career touchdown passes in the third quarter.
During the second half there were a laundry list of career firsts for the Lions. Griffin Appleman (Brooksville, Ky./Bracken Co.), Trevor Thome (Medina, Ohio/Buckeye), Terrance May (Louisville, Ky./Ballard), Cody Jacobs (Blue Ridge, Ga./Fanin Co.) each registered their first carry as varsity player. Appleman led the Lions with 8 rushes, for 61 yards in the game. Pulling in their first collegiate catch in the game were a pair of freshman Nic Frederick (Trevor, Wis./Wetosha Central) and Chase Samples (La Grange, Ky./Oldham County). Four young Lions were able to register their first defensive statistics. Austin Carter (Bethel, Ohio/Bethel-Tate) registered his first tackle, and tied for the team lead with 7 in the game. Bo Kuenning (St. Mary's, Ohio/St. Mary's), Noah Hammond (Brookville, Ind./Franklin County), and Nick Brokering (Shelbyville, Ohio/Shelbyville) also each registered their first tackles of their young career.
The Lions defense as a whole was very stout in the game, allowing Earlham to gain only 96 yards of total offense in the game, and forcing 10 Quaker punts. The Lions registered 14 tackles-for-loss in the game, after registering only 13 over the first 3 games of the year. Linebackers Sean Sullivan (Covington, Ky./Holmes) and Julius Fisher (St. Mary's, Ohio/St. Mary's) led the defense each registering seven tackles, and each had a TFL. Connor McCracken (Cincinnati, Ohio/Milford) registered his first sack of the season as well.
Chaiten Tomlin continued to light up the stat sheet and NCAA DIII statistical leaderboard. Tomlin should again find himself atop the NCAA DIII in passing yards, touchdowns, and passing efficiency after his stellar performance. Tomlin also set the MSJ career record for passing yardage in the win, passing MSJ Hall-of-famer TJ Hilvert.
The Lions (3-1, 2-0 HCAC) will travel to Bluffton (1-3, 1-1 HCAC) to attempt and revenge one of their losses from a season ago. Last year Bluffton defeated the Lions 32-31 on a field goal as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The game is scheduled for a 1:30 PM kick-off, tune into MSJsports.com for live coverage of the game.