by Greg Chandler
The Hope College football team broke a 100-year-old school record for points in a game Saturday as the Flying Dutchmen rolled to an 80-6 victory over Defiance (Ohio) College in front of 2,553 fans who turned out for the 54th annual Community Day game.
The previous school record for points in a game by Hope was 71, set in 1919 against Ferris Institute (now Ferris State University) in a 71-7 win.
Hope rebounded from a 27-21 Week 1 loss at Millikin University (Illinois) to even its record at 1-1 going into the Flying Dutchmen's final nonconference test next Saturday, September 21, at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium against Aurora (Illinois) University. Kickoff is 1 p.m.
"We kept talking about this all week. We wanted to play the game fast to get that bad taste in our mouth gone from last week. Our guys played so hard last week but came up short," head coach Peter Stuursma said. "It was nice to get everybody in the game today, nice to have the opportunity to play on Community in front of a great crowd. What an awesome day."
Photo of Brandon Anderson by Steven Herppich
It didn't take long for the Flying Dutchmen to get started. On Hope's first offensive play, sophomore running back Kenyea Houston of Chicago, Illinois (Westinghouse Prep) dashed up the middle 66 yards for a touchdown. Senior placekicker Sam Allbritten of Warsaw, Indiana (Warsaw HS) kicked the first of his school-record 11 extra points on the day, and Hope led 7-0 21 seconds into the game.
On Hope's second possession, senior quarterback Mason Opple of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville HS) found Houston wide open in the flat, and Houston took it the rest of the way for a 22-yard touchdown. It was the first of a career-high five touchdown passes for Opple, who left the game in the third quarter after completing 10 of 13 passes for 263 yards.
Later, Opple connected with senior wide receiver Christian Bos of Hudsonville, Michigan (Unity Christian HS) on a 56-yard touchdown strike, giving Hope a 21-0 lead after one quarter.
In the second quarter, Houston scored his third TD of the day on a 4-yard plunge. Opple then followed with touchdown passes of 41 yards to sophomore running back Brandon Anderson of Cassopolis, Michigan (Ross Beatty HS) and 61 yards to freshman wide receiver TJ McKenzie of Muskegon, Michigan (North Muskegon HS), and Hope led 42-6 at the half.
The Flying Dutchmen went on to outgain Defiance by a 472-228 margin. Hope totaled 19 first downs, only three more than Defiance.
In the second half, Hope took advantage of a combination of Defiance (0-2) turnovers and missed fourth down plays to add to its lead. At one point in the half, the Flying Dutchmen started six onsecutive drives inside the Yellowjackets' 30-yard-line. Defiance converted just two of seven fourth-down attempts.
Opple closed out his day early in the second half with a 19-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Cooper Cecchini of Jenison, Michigan (Hudsonville HS).
Allbritten kicked his first collegiate field goal, a 23-yarder.
After a fumble recovery by junior cornerback Brandon Showers of Mason, Michigan (Mason HS) on the Defiance 19, Anderson scored his second touchdown of the day on the very next play. Sixteen seconds after that, junior cornerback Trevor Sutton of Bay City, Michigan (All Saints Central HS) intercepted a Defiance pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown, making the score 66-6 after three quarters.
Hope broke the single-game scoring record on the first play of the fourth quarter, as freshman running back RJ Peshek of Basalt, Colorado (Aspen HS) scored on a 2-yard run.
The Flying Dutchmen closed out the scoring with 4:19 remaining as freshman linebacker Noah Graff of Newaygo, Michigan (Newaygo HS) recovered a bad shotgun snap in the end zone for a touchdown.
Hope passed for 297 yards and rushed for 175. The Flying Dutchmen defense picked off five Defiance passes, recovered two fumbles and recorded six sacks.
Houston led the Hope ground game with 85 yards on seven carriers, while Christian Bos caught three passes for 92 yards.
Also recording interceptions for Hope were senior defensive back Conner Nemmers of Grand Rapids, Michigan (West Catholic HS); junior cornerback Tim Bott of Buckley, Michigan (Traverse City St. Francis HS); freshman safety Jay Shields of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Forest Hills Central HS) and freshman cornerback Adam Vander Kooy of Indianapolis, Indiana (Brebeuf Jesuit Prep).