CINCINNATI -- Defiance College picked up its first victory of the 2011 season on Saturday at The College of Mount St. Joseph in their annual defensive brouhaha with the Lions, 23-13.
It was the first time DC (1-4, 1-2 HCAC) had won at MSJ since winning the HCAC title in 2001 and was also the first time DC won at the recently built Schueler Field.
Early in the fourth quarter, MSJ (3-2, 2-2 HCAC) took its first lead of the afternoon on a 42-yard James Clay run for 13-10 advantage. But the Jackets responded on their next possession and marched 60 yards on eight plays, with the final 22 yards being covered by senior QB Rick Powell's 22-yard run on fourth-and-one.
"When we went in at halftime I told the kids that, 'they're a really good football team and they're going to keep swinging,'" said DC coach Robert Taylor. "'The thing that we've got to do when they punch and hit us, we've got to get back up and respond.' We went down and had a couple real big conversions during that drive and then Rick made a great read on a fourth-down play. It was just a dive play but we were zone-reading the five-technique and Rick just pulled it and was off to the races. He made a great, great run."
Just 1:41 later, junior nose tackle Gregg Pickett put a bow on DC's triumph by picking off a Brian Pitzer pass at the MSJ 32-yard line and rumbled to the end zone for a 23-13 DC edge.
"It was the very next drive (after we scored)," said Taylor. "It was a second-down-and-long and we kept telling them, 'hey, watch the screen on second-and-long.' We got some pressure and forced the quarterback to throw the ball across his body and he couldn't get a lot on it. Pick got his hand up, tipped it and kind of tipped it to himself and ran it for a touchdown."
On the day, DC scored a pair of non-offensive touchdowns. Along with Pickets' pick-six, junior defensive punt returner Tony Sierra returned a punt 84 yards with 6:19 left in the opening quarter.
"That got the kids excited," said Taylor. "It was a heck of a return. He bobbled the ball a little bit, it bounced and he just made a couple of guys miss and cut across the field and got a couple of blocks and got six points. We were playing well up until that point but it just gave the kids more confidence."
The two scores helped the Jackets overcome being outgained 371-271. Mount St. Joseph also gashed the Jackets for 278 yards rushing but threw three interceptions to nullify the advantage in yardage.
Powell had a big day running the ball with 96 yards on only 11 totes.
"We're a good football team," said Taylor. "We're a scrappy bunch, and in the first four weeks people don't realize the type of competition we've played. Muskingum's undefeated, Adrian's undefeated, Hanover's a good team and Franklin the only team they've lost to is the No. 1 team in the country (UW-Whitewater). We've played a lot of really good teams. To get a win and against a team like Mount St. Joe that was 4-1 is big."
The Yellow Jackets return home next Saturday to host Earlham College at 1:30 p.m.
First downs 14 20
Rushing yards 32-184 42-278
Passing yards 87 93
Total yards 271 371
Passing 13-26-0 11-27-3
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties 10-77 3-19
Defiance 7 3 0 13 - 23
Mt. St. Joe 6 0 0 7 - 13
DC - Sierra 84-punt return (Saunders kick).
MSJ - Pitzer 11-run (Dripps kick failed).
DC - Saunders 23-field goal.
MSJ - Clay 42-run (Dripps kick).
DC - Powell 22-run (Saunders kick failed).
DC - Pickett 32-interception return (Saunders kick).
RUSHING: Defiance - Powell 11-96; Kuesel 14-57; Plummer 4-25; Chester 1-8; Team 2-(-2). Mount St. Joe - Pitzer 14-102; Clay 15-94; Brown 4-40; Conners 5-21; Klekotka 14; Meade 1-8; McPhail 1-4; Keller 1-(-5). PASSING: Defiance - Powell 13-26-0-87-0. Mount St. Joseph - Pitzer 8-22-2-61-0; McPhail 3-5-1-32-0. RECEIVING: Defiance - Kuesel 6-28; Wiedenhoft 2-21; Cessna 1-10; Weaver 1-10; Choice 1-9; Archie 1-7; Carrabino 1-2. Mount St. Joseph - Conners 3-22; Clay 3-19; Blundred 2-28; Keller 1-18; Kaminsky 1-4.