KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology sophomore Austin Swenson passed for 384 yards and four touchdowns to lead a balanced offensive attack in a 40-13 season opening victory at Kalamazoo College on Saturday.
Swenson finished 30-41 through the air in a passing performance that ranks third in single-game school history for touchdown passes (4), fourth in passing yards (384) and fifth in completions (30). He also rushed for one score late in the first half.
Offensively, Rose-Hulman gained 556 yards for a top-10 performance in a game in program history. The Fightin' Engineers held Kalamazoo to 304 yards of total offense, including a 17-38 passing performance.
Junior Aaron Abbott and sophomore Alec Fisher were Swenson's primary targets on the day. Abbott made eight receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns, while Fisher hauled in seven passes for 81 yards and two scores. Sophomore Joe Moehrle also hauled in six catches for 55 yards.
The ground game featured four primary rushers. Senior Brian Soller led the attack with 57 yards on six carries. Senior Greg Lee added 46 yards, Swenson rushed for 35 and one score, and freshman Michael Iacono contributed 28 yards.
Defensively, senior Spencer Balash had a career-high 14 tackles and added two pass breakups. Junior Chris Sander contributed nine tackles, and sophomore Kevin Nowak added six hits, three pass breakups and an acrobatic interception.
Kalamazoo scored on its first and last drive of the game, but otherwise the Rose-Hulman defense dictated much of the play on Hornets possessions. Clay Wilkey capped a 27-yard opening drive set up by a fumble to give Kalamazoo a 6-0 lead with 13:42 left in the first quarter.
Rose-Hulman answered back with a 75-yard, 10-play drive that lasted just 2:28. Swenson and Abbott hooked up on their first touchdown strike, a 27-yard downfield pass that knotted the score at 6-6.
Later in the first quarter, the Fightin' Engineers marched 85 yards in seven plays to gain the lead at 12-6. Swenson and Abbott connected on a 49-yard screen pass and run to give Rose-Hulman a lead it would not relinquish.
The lead reached 19-6 midway through the second quarter on one of the key plays of the game. With Rose-Hulman facing fourth-and-one, the Engineers went for the deep pass and Fisher made a leaping 24-yard scoring catch in the endzone.
Rose-Hulman tacked on one more score in the first half, when Swenson scored from one-yard out to cap an 80-yard, 11-play drive to push the lead to 26-6 at the break.
In the second half, Rose-Hulman continued its strong defense and mixed in two more scoring drives. Swenson and Fisher pushed the lead to 33-6 on a 29-yard pass that capped a nine-play, 76-yard march.
The final scoring drive came midway through the fourth quarter, when Soller set up his own three-yard touchdown run with a 51-yard scamper.
Rose-Hulman stands 1-0 for the first time since 2009, and head coach Jeff Sokol claimed his first victory over his alma mater Kalamazoo. The Fightin' Engineers open the 2014 home season against Illinois College on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.