Story and photo courtesy of Tiffin Athletics
Tiffin University football fans, welcome to 2012.
The Dragons got the new season off to a good start with a defensive-dominated 23-13 victory over visiting McKendree University in front of 1243 fans at Frost Kalnow Stadium Sept. 1, ending a 21-game losing streak dating back to the opening game of 2010.
TU twice came back from deficits in the game and put the game away with stifling second half defense. The Dragons intercepted three passes in the game, blocked an extra point and returned the ball 95 yards for a safety, and held the Bearcats to just 69 total yards of offense after halftime.
Both teams were tentative in the early going, with neither team putting points on the board until McKendree drove 70 yards in 11 plays with 2:34 left in the half to take a 6-0 lead.
But on the ensuing extra point, Will Cook blocked the extra point for TU and Kyle Yoder scooped up the deflection and rumbled down the sideline 95 yards and into the end zone for two points.
The play fired up the Dragons and their fans, as TU took the next possession and drove 69 yards behind the passing of James Capello. The drive was capped off at the 1:28 mark when Bertram Marks hauled in a 36 yard touchdown pass to give TU a 9-6 halftime advantage.
The momentum seemed to swing back the Bearcats' way at the start of the third quarter when Zach Haselhorst stepped in front of a Capello pass and picked off the quarterback for a 50 yard TD that put McKendree back on top 13-9.
It would be the last score of the day for the Bearcats, however, as the TU defense shut down McKendree, allowing only 69 yards in the second half. TU outgained McKendree 198-69 in the final 30 minutes.
The Dragons' offense kept up the attack in the third quarter, finishing off a 69 yard drive at the 8:25 mark on a 3 yard TD catch by Obadiah Dykes off a soft toss from Capello as TU regained the lead 16-13.
The TU defense fittingly sealed the game at the 2:47 mark of the fourth quarter when Logan Snell deflected a Bearcats' pass and then hauled it in on the run for a 31 yard interception return for a score to give TU the 10-point victory.
Overall TU outgained McKendree 322-223, largely due to its second half effort. They also held a 216-93 edge through the air.
Josh Pribble led the defensive effort with 2 first half interceptions, giving TU 3 total for the game. He also added 8 tackles as did defensive back Mike Virgin. Joseph Collard led TU on the line with 9 tackles while Antonio Etter also had 7 tackles. Brandon Persons and Bryon McCorkle also posted 6 tackles each.
Seth Pekoe also had a nice game punting for TU, averaging 43.5 yards per kick and dropping three punts inside the 20, including two inside the 5-yard line.
Capello finished with 216 yards on 24 of 37 passing with 1 interception and 2 touchdowns. Dykes finished with 63 yards receiving on 5 catches, while nine different Dragons caught passes. Bertram Marks also had 41 yards receiving.
Jeremy Ortiz averaged 7.7 yards per rush, gaining 69 yards on 9 carries while James Hall also had 39 yards on 7 rushes (5.6 per rush). Hall had 65 all-purpose yards while Ortiz had 78 and Dykes 63.
TU now takes to the road for a trip to Michigan Tech on Sept. 8 for their GLIAC opener.