Football Drops Hard-Fought Opener At Monmouth, Illinois

Head coach Peter Stuursma saw as good of a quarter he has seen from his Hope College football team in his short tenure.

Unfortunately for the Flying Dutchmen, four turnovers, including two that set up Monmouth, Illinois touchdowns, proved too much to overcome in a season-opening 27-20 defeat on Saturday.

"The third quarter was as good as we've had," Stuursma said. "We were getting good field position. Our defense was owning them. We just couldn't punch it in."

"All in all, we made some strides. We just didn't make some plays we needed to. We've got to shore those up. "We'll get back to work on Monday and learn from this. We'll figure it out."

A defense led by senior linebacker Griffin Weigl of Saginaw, Michigan (Nouvel HS) held Monmouth to 277 yards of total offense — more than half fewer than the 587 Monmouth accumulated in a 44-3 victory at Smith Stadium in the 2016 opener.

Weigl, pictured, led the Flying Dutchmen with 12 tackles, including two for lost yardage. He returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown with 6 ½ minutes remaining in the third quarter that cut Monmouth's lead to 20-13.

Hope forced Monmouth to punt its next possession, but two plays later, Monmouth forced senior running back Brandan Campbell of Otsego, Michigan (Otsego) to fumble and returned it 14 yards to the Flying Dutchmen 24-yard line.

Six plays later, Hayden Nelson completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Yansay Williams to extend Monmouth's lead to 27-13.

A first-quarter fumble by sophomore quarterback Mason Opple of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) at the Hope 30-yard line set up a short touchdown drive for Monmouth's first touchdowns.

Opple scored on a 7-yard run with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Hope regained possession twice after trimming its deficit to seven points but could not score.

Campbell rushed for a game-high 133 yards on 21 carries. He had a 64-yard touchdown run in the second half.

Sophomore safety Nick Holt of Norton Shores, Michigan (Muskegon Catholic Central) totaled 11 tackles in his Flying Dutchmen debut.

Sophomore defensive back Luke Beckhusen of Coldwater, Michigan (Coldwater) finished with 10 tackles.

Hope's next game is the Saturday, September 9 Community Day game against Defiance, Ohio at Ray & Sue Smith Stadium. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m. | PO Box 9000, Holland, Michigan 49422