DC trying to continue winning ways

By LYNN GROLL groll@crescent-news.com Published:

A third consecutive victory will be at stake for Defiance College as the Yellow Jackets head to Anderson University for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.

The Jackets (2-4, 2-2 HCAC) and Ravens (1-5, 1-3 HCAC) have both picked up victories over winless Earlham this season while DC also added a 23-13 win at Mount St. Joseph two weeks ago.

"Not as good as we would've hoped," said Anderson coach Jeff Judge of his team's season. "We've struggled a little bit. We have some good veteran players, but we're playing a lot of young players and the mix hasn't been what we hoped to this point in time. Specifically, you look at our defense with lots of young players on there. I think they're playing well but just aren't quite mature enough to keep up in this league yet. Every day we keep going to work and working harder. I think they're getting better and they certainly will compete, but when are they going to get to the point where we can win some of these games in the league? That's yet to be determined."

Both teams rank near the bottom of the league in points production with Anderson averaging 18.7 ppg to rank seventh while Defiance ranks eighth with 14.7 ppg.

Running the football is where the Yellow Jackets have had the most success this season and sport the HCAC's second ranked running attack with 167.3 yards per game.

"I think we've gone back to our basics," said interim Defiance College head coach Nate Jensen, who took over the program last week after nine-year head coach Robert Taylor resigned. "We're running the ball very, very well right now and we're going to continue to think and find new ways to run the football. We've also been playing some really tough defense. To be honest with you, it's the main reason we're starting to come together as a team. That's really what it is. It's the guys and them working hard every day and becoming a family.

"I'm just going to worry about my guys and getting our guys focused on the game," Jensen added. We're still moving on from things and coming together as a team. Thanks again for all the support and it's (support) an awesome feeling. I'm just here to help these guys along and get them ready to play football."

The Jackets churned out 184 yards rushing in the win over MSJ and a whopping 281 rushing yards last week in the win over Earlham.

Senior QB Rick Powell led the charge with 136 yards on the ground and 165 more through the air.

"Defiance's has always been known as a good running team and we've always had a good running back and quarterback combination with Rick and (tailback) Drew (Kuesel), with some of our guys stepping up now," said Jensen. "It's a lot fun to see those guys run the football because those guys can be explosive."

Anderson leads the HCAC in sacks with 18 this season. Senior linebacker Todd Taylor has accounted for four of the sacks while defensive linemen Leonard Wells and Jason Samuels both have three apiece.

Anderson also features a talented tailback with sophomore Marcus Spann (530 yards rushing, 5 touchdowns) averaging 106 rushing yards per game.

"You have to set the tone and you have to be physical when you want to," said Jensen. "Anderson's a good football team, they have their own tailback that's a very good runner and it very well could be a slugfest when it comes to running the football."

Although Spann has been a major problem for apposing defenses, the Ravens have thrown the ball over 100 more times than they've run it.

Senior Nick Sharp is 144-259 passing with 10 interceptions and nine touchdowns this year behind center at AU.

Linebacker Hunter Robertson (45 tackles) and safety Tony Sierra (36 tackles) spearhead the DC defense.

"I'm not sure what the situation is from a coaching standpoint, but they look to me like they were pretty ready to go against Earlham," said Judge. "They were playing with great energy and they looked very, very good. Sometimes you don't know how a team that goes through a coaching change will go through the adversity and handle that. It looks like they've used that to energy themselves and that's a little concerning.

"They look like they're highly motivated and they're your typical Defiance team," concluded Judge. "They're physical on offense and they're physical on defense. They give you multiple looks on defense, more than anybody in the league gives you which creates some problems. They've gotten back to what I thought they'd be at the start of the year, a physical run-style offense. They kind of got away from that the way it looked early in the season but they're not away from that anymore."

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