DEFIANCE, OHIO - The Defiance College Yellow Jackets host Hanover (Ind.) College in a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference game and home opener at Justin F. Coressel Stadium at 1:30 p.m. [Complete Game Notes in PDF Form]
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Saturday's meeting will be the 35th meeting between the two schools. Hanover leads the series record, 21-13.
Last season the Yellow Jackets beat the Panthers, 31-28, at Alumni Stadium in Hanover, Ind. DC trailed, 21-9, going into halftime. Defiance then outscored Hanover, 22-7 in the second half to prevail, 31-28, in a come-from-behind victory.
Scouting the Yellow Jackets
Defiance returns 36 lettermen, including 17 starters in 2015.
After three games this season, the offense is averaging 253.3 yards per game. Freshman Andre Adderly (West Palm Beach, Fla./Village Academy) will get his first start of the season at quarterback against Hanover.
The Yellow Jackets have a young backfield with sophomore Anthony Righi (Liberty Center) listed as the starter. Coming into this week, Righi has carried the ball 22 times for 40 yards (1.8 yards per carry). Freshman Jeff Watson (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead) is listed as the backup and has 24 carries for 45 yards (1.9 ypc.). Also look for junior Cody Wilson (McComb) to be used as a ball carrier. Wilson has seven rushes this season for a team-high 59 yards (8.4 ypc.) and one TD.
At the wideout position, look for juniors Cody Wilson, Andy Foore (Swanton) and freshmen Devin Bolden (Lake Worth, Fla./Wellington) and Nate Roberts (St. Petersburg, Fla./Boca Ciega) to start. Wilson leads the team in receiving with 18 catches for 206 yards (11.4 yards per catch) so far this season. Foore is second with six grabs for 97 yards (16.2 ypc.). Roberts is tied with Foore in receptions with six and has 59 yards to along with a TD. Bolden has one reception for 28 yards. The Jackets primarily lines up with four wideouts, but when they have a tight end, expect junior Tom Woehnker to fill that role. To date, he has caught three passes for 61 yards (20.3 ypc.) and one TD.
On defense, Defiance is currently allowing 442.7 yards per game, but has accounted for five takeaways already this season with a pair of interceptions and three fumbles.
The defensive line will be anchored by seniors Kyle Wilson (Wauseon) and Cody Lee (Tampa, Fla./Jefferson). Kyle Wilson has made 10 total tackles (five solo and five assists). Lee has also recorded nine tackles (five solo and four assists). Also look for junior Matt DeVore (Van Buren) and sophomore Greg Ward (Ypsilanti, Mich./Ypsilanti) to start alongside Kyle Wilson and Lee.
The linebackers will start freshman Jalin Nealy (Pontiac, Mich./West Bloomfield) and Jjunior Keandre Gilmer. Nealy leads the team in tackles with 26 (16 solo and 10 assists). He also has 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Gilmer is second in tackles with 23 (20 solo and three assists) to go along with two tackles for loss, one sack, a fumble recovery and a fumble forced.
The Jacket secondary is led by junior Kenny Jones (Toledo/Bowsher) and freshman Dalin Brown (Port St. Lucie, Fla./St. Lucie Wester Center) at the corners along with senior Andrew Feldhaus (Lutz, Fla./Steinbrenner), junior Cody Wiggins (Howell, Mich./Howell) and sophomore Jacob Bickel (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran) at the safety positions. Jones is tied for fifth on the team in tackles with 12 (eight solo and four assists) and also has one fumble recovery against Adrian which he returned for a touchdown. Brown has yet to record any tackles or other defensive statistics. Feldhaus is third in tackles with 22 (16 solo and six assists) in addition to a tackle for loss. Wiggins has made one tackle and Bickel has added six tackles (four solo and two assists).
On special teams, freshman Tyler L'Heureux (Apopka, Fla./Apopka) will handle the place kicking duties, while junior Tom Woehnker (Kendallville, Ind./East Nobel) will be the team's starting punter. L'Heureux is two-of-four in field goal attempts and three-of-four in extra point attempts. Woehnker has punted the ball 25 times and is averaging 38.4 yards per punt. He has recorded four punts over 50 yards and has pinned the opponents inside their 20-yard line on four ocassions as well.
Scouting the Panthers
The Panthers' offense has been averaging 241.3 yards per game of total offense (65.7 rushing and 175.7 passing) through three games this season.
Calling the plays for Hanover will be freshman Zack Donan Donan has completed 20-of-41 passes for 207 yards with one TD, but has thrown three interceptions. He is the team's second-leading rusher with 72 yards on 18 carries (4.0 yards per carry).
Expect to see the Panthers line up with one person in the backfield as a running back with sophomore Justin Conners getting the start. Conners has a team-leading 141 yards on 45 carries (3.1 ypc.) and has one TD. He has also caught eight passes for 83 yards. Fellow sophomore Nate Hein is listed as Conners' backup and has carried the ball six times ofr five yards coming into this week.
At the wide receiver position, look for juniors Layne Taylor, Dontre Woodruff, RIcky Windell and sophomore Casey Virgin to start. Taylor leads the team in receptions with 14 for 85 yards (6.1 yards per catch). Woodruff is second with 10 catches for 76 yards (7.6 ypc.) and a score. Windell has nine receptions for a team-best 96 yards (10.7 ypc.) and Virgin has one catch for 24 yards.
Defensively, Hanover has been giving up a league-worst 644.3 yards per game (363.3 rushing and 281.0 passing).
The Panthers line up in a traditional 4-3 scheme, and will start three seniors up front in Jake Stilwell, Willy Coy and T.J. Gerking. Of the three, Stilwell leads the pack with 11 tackles (seven solo and four assists), inlcuding a fumble recovery.
At linebacker, junior Ryan Martin, Morgan Morrison and Riley Deckard will get the nod. Martin is the team leader in tackles with 33 stops (20 solo and 13 assists), including a tackle for loss. Morrison is tied for third overall with 19 tackles (nine solo and 10 assists) and has one forced fumble. Deckard has added 15 tackles (eight solo and seven assists) and has recovered a fumble.
The Hanover secondary will feature sophomore Kegan Aldridge and freshman Keith Cork at the corners and senior Nathan Freese and junior Jake Allgood at the safety positions. Cork is tied for third in tackles with 19 (12 solo and seven assists and has one interception. Aldridge has added 16 tackles (13 solo and three assists) and one interception. Allgood is tied with Aldridge in tackles with 16 (nine solo and seven assists) and Freese has tallied four stops (three solo and one assist) so far this season.
On special teams, the place kicking duties fall to junior Ben Wheeler. Wheeler has attempted on field goal coming into this week, but missed his only attempt and is a perfect three-of-three in extra point attempts. Senior Josh Green is listed as the team's starting punter. To date, he is averaging 39.3 yards per punt in 21 attempts with a season-long kick of 62 yards and three punts inside the 20-yard line.