TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology set up a winner-take-all Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference football championship game next weekend with a convincing 53-6 win over Defiance College on Saturday.
The Fightin' Engineers amassed eight sacks, scored a special teams touchdown and outgained Defiance 490-39 in the contest. Rose-Hulman set two single-game defensive school records by holding Defiance to -90 rushing yards and just 39 yards of total offense in the victory.
All three of Rose-Hulman's passers on Saturday recorded touchdown passes. Eric Morris finished 11-24 through the air for 125 yards and one touchdown, Andrew Dion was 4-5 for 71 yards and one score, and Garrett Wight threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Dion on his first college throw to balance the offense.
On the ground, Shane Welshans led the ground attack with 95 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Wight rushed for 88 yards on 22 carries, and the duo of Maxwell Hatch (40 yards) and Alonzo Johnson (37 yards) combined for 77 more. Noah Thomas led the receiving corps with seven catches for 97 yards, breaking his previous single-season school record of 932 yards last season with a new total of 947.
The story of the day was Rose-Hulman's strong defensive effort, however. The Fightin' Engineers amassed eight sacks and held Defiance to just 10 first downs while playing multiple defensive units. The eight sacks were amassed by 10 different players including half sacks, led by Ben Kaufer with 1.5. Rose-Hulman tallied 17 tackles-for-loss of 135 yards defensively, with Corey Vincent providing three tackles-for-loss and one sack.
The defense's biggest play was a special teams effort. On a high punt snap, Welshans forced a fumble by knocking the ball away from the Defiance punter. Zach Phillips scooped the fumble and scored from five yards out to give the Engineers a first half score.
Rose-Hulman jumped out to a 26-0 halftime lead with outstanding play in all three phases. Dion connected with Thomas on a 52-yard scoring strike to open the scoring, then Wight threw his first career touchdown pass to Dion to make the score 14-0.
The score reached 16-0 following a high punt snap that was batted through the endzone for a safety. Phillips returned his fumbled punt five yards at the 6:12 mark of the second quarter to push the lead to 23-0. Brett Tuttle booted a 25-yard field goal to cap an 11-play drive near the end of the first half to push the lead to 26-0.
Welshans scored on the first drive of the second half to give Rose-Hulman a 32-point edge. Following a touchdown pass by Defiance, Welshans scored again from one yard out to increase the lead to 39-6.
Rose-Hulman improved to 6-2 overall and 5-1 in HCAC play, while Defiance dropped to 0-8 overall and 0-5 in league games. The Fightin' Engineers meet Hanover College to determine the HCAC automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Playoffs next Saturday at 2 pm at Cook Stadium. The Fightin' Engineers would guarantee no worse than a league co-championship and would secure the automatic bid with a win, while Hanover clinches the outright title with a victory.