DEFIANCE, Ohio – Defiance opened the 2009 campaign with a 13-7 victory against Muskingum on Saturday. The Jackets notched their fifth win in a row, dating back to last season, by jumping out to a 13-0 lead and dodging a fourth-quarter rally by the Muskies.
With DC clinging to a 13-7 lead, Muskingum began its final possession of the afternoon with 5:45 remaining on the clock. Jake Burns opened the drive by rushing for 24 yards on three-straight carries to move the ball to the MU 45-yard line.
The Muskie quarterback then found Dwight Sutton for 18 yards, before rushing for eight more and then finding Sutton once more for a 17-yard strike that set up a first down from the DC 12-yard marker with just under two minutes showing on the clock.
Burns attempted to find Sutton on each of the next two plays, before turning to Romie Graham on third down. The pass found Graham alone in the corner of the end zone but was bobbled, before being knocked away by Kyle Longsdorf to set up the fourth-down play.
After taking a timeout to set up the final effort, Burns rolled out to the far sideline and lofted a pass to Sutton once again. This time Sutton pulled in the pass but came down out of bounds to end the threat and turn the ball and the game over to the Jackets.
Two early Muskingum turnovers helped to spark the Purple and Gold in the opening quarter, with the second miscue setting up DC's initial score. Sutton could not handle the Tom Foos punt and Dustin Supan pounced on the loose ball at the Muskingum 46.
A pair of Defiance freshmen then led the charge to the end zone, as Troy Bell's 10-yard scamper on his first collegiate touch set up a 31-yard reception from Austin Karcher to rookie wide receiver Jon Carrabino.
The long connection put the ball on the MU three-yard line and was followed by a two-yard touchdown pass from Karcher to Ryan Black to lift the Jackets to the 7-0 advantage with 4:24 left in the opening quarter.
The Muskies appeared poised to dent the scoreboard in the third quarter after Ta'Ron Johnson blocked a field goal attempt and O.J. Diomedi ran it back 53 yards to the DC 20-yard line. MU could not capitalize however, and handed the ball back to Defiance after Bill Rini missed a 25-yard field attempt.
Muskingum got another chance only two plays later, after Alex Thomas intercepted a Rick Powell offering, but once again came away empty when Travis Guisinger picked off a Muskie pass at the four-yard line and ran it back 29 yards.
A quick three-play drive set up another Foos punt but Muskingum again failed to find the handle and Ricky Scherer scooped up the loose ball at MU's own 13-yard line.
Bell ran the ball twice to set up a first and goal for Defiance from the one, before Drew Kuesel punched it in for the 13-0 advantage.
The shutout effort finally came to an end on the ensuing Muskie drive, as Burns orchestrated a 14-play drive capped by an 18-yard scoring pass to Blake Allen that trimmed the DC lead to 13-7 with 9:27 left in the game.
Muskingum would have its final chance of the game end with the failed fourth-down pass from Burns to Sutton with 1:31 left to play, as Defiance iced the six-point win with three-straight runs as the clock ran out.
The Purple and Gold turned in an impressive effort in its first showing under new defensive coordinator Nate Jensen. DC held the Muskies to 2.6 yards per carry, while piling up four takeaways and posting nine hits for lost yardage.
Chuck Bowman led the way with a game-high 12 tackles and Dustin Supan notched nine of his 11 hits via the solo variety to go with one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Longsdorf also played well with eight hits and Joel Billings ended with two of DC's five sacks.
The offense rode the legs of Kuesel and Bell, as Kuesel ran for 127 yards and a score, while Bell racked up 45 yards on 10 touches.
Defiance moves to 1-0 with the victory and will be trying for its sixth-straight win when it hosts Adrian on Saturday, September 12. Kickoff for the 'Border War' is set for 1:30 pm inside of Justin F. Coressel Stadium.
Fans not able to attend the game can catch all the action live by going to www.DefianceAthletics.com/video and watching the free webcast.