HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover College football team opens Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference action with the Beavers of Bluffton University.
PANTHERS UNDER THEOBALD: Head Coach Matt Theobald is entering his fourth season at the helm of the Panthers. The 2019 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year guided the Panthers to an HCAC title and the team's first NCAA playoff appearance dating back to 2003. The Blue and Red earned the crown after defeating HCAC favorite Franklin as part of the 88th annual Victory Bell Classic.
WEEKEND RECAP: The Hanover Panthers wrapped up non-conference action with a trip to Maryville (Tenn.) where the Blue and Red defeated the Scots, 31-10. In the contest, the Panthers were led by the defensive efforts of sophomore Kiefer Askew (Warner Robins, Ga.) who forced two Maryville interceptions. Under center, junior Noah Wezensky (Fort Wayne, Ind.) finished with 193-yards through the air and one touchdown. The ground efforts were led by junior Shawn Coane (Evansville, Ind.) rushing for 141-yards and a score. The junior posted a game long 69-yard scamper. Hanover forced four Scot turnovers in the contest, including a senior Matt Rier (Wellington, Fla.) 22-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
LAST MEETING: In last year's meeting between the Panthers and the Beavers, the Blue and Red used 14 first quarter points to sail past Bluffton, 28-10. Hanover finished the contest with a game-high 365-yards of offense, including 294-yards through the air. Leading the way for Hanover was quarterback, Wezensky with 294-yards and three touchdowns. His top target appeared to be senior Jackson Daugherty (Greenwood, Ind.) with seven receptions for a game-high 116-yards and a score.
DOMINATING DEFENSE: Askew leads the Blue and Red defensive efforts in 2019 with two interceptions and four pass breakups. Rier has also contributed to the dominate defense with two sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. As a team, the Panthers have forced five opponent turnovers with 21 tackles for loss.
IN THE BACKFIELD: Coane and Walt Ballinger (Beech Grove, Ind.) have teamed up in the backfield to provide what appears to be an unstoppable duo. Coane has tallied 61 carries for 383-yards, averaging 127.7 yards per game with three rushing touchdowns. Ballinger has made quick work of his time with the pig skin rushing for 182-yards on just 13 carries. He has found the endzone a team-high four times, averaging a team-best 14.0 yards per carry.
UNDER CENTER: Wezensky continues to dominate the air ways for the Panthers with 683-yards and three touchdowns. The junior currently ranks among the league's best in yards per game (227.7), touchdowns (3), and completions (70). On the receiving end of the aerial strike, senior Taylor Bleistein (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) appears to be the top target with 220-yards on 11 receptions. The senior enters the contest ranked fourth in the HCAC in yards per game (73.3) and touchdowns (2). Also making an impact for the Blue and Red are wide receivers, senior Conner Gibson (Lexington, Ky.) and Daugherty. The duo has combined for 305 total yards on 30 receptions.
SCOUTING THE BEAVERS: The Bluffton University Beavers enter today's contest at 0-3 overall after falling to Franklin, 34-19. In the contest with the Grizzlies, the Beavers tallied 360-yards of total offense with 237-yards coming on the ground. Leading the rushing efforts for Bluffton was Darian Greeley with 22 carries for a team-high 89-yards. The Beavers this season have tallied 1,018-yards of total offense, averaging 339.3 yards per game. Under center, Zachary Nobis has appeared in two games with 285-yards of offense. The sophomore is averaging 142.5-yards per game with two touchdowns. His top prospect appears to be wide receiver Adam Duncan with 11 receptions for 152-yards.