The Hiram College football team fell short of Denison University, 17-12, in the North Coast Athletic Conference opener for both teams in Granville.
Hiram (1-1, 0-1 NCAC) struck first on a 23-yard pass play from senior Robert Partridge(Massillon/Washington) to fellow senior Brendon James (Brunswick) with 3:37 left in the first quarter to take the early lead. The lone touchdown was the only points scored in the first period as the Terriers maintained a 7-0 advantage.
In the second quarter, Denison (2-0, 1-0 NCAC) began a 17-unanswered point streak that began with a 22-yard pass play at the 14:51 minute mark which capped an eight-play, 71-yard drive to even the contest at 7-7. The Big Red then took the lead thanks to a 31-yard field goal with 10:04 left in the half to make the score 10-7. Neither team scored any more points the remainder of the quarter as Denison took a slim 10-7 margin into the locker rooms.
Denison completed its scoring run in the third quarter with the period’s only touchdown on a 22-yard scamper at the 5:31 mark to increase the lead to 17-7 heading into the final frame.
Hiram began a rally of its own in the final quarter thanks to a 29-yard field goal by junior Greg Klisuric(Mentor) with 2:25 left in the game. Following the Klisuric field goal, Denison began its ensuing drive on its own eight yard line. The Hiram defense forced the Big Red to two negative rushing plays that resulted in a safety narrowing the gap to 17-12 with 2:08 to go. Hiram got the ball back following the Denison free kick, but the Terriers would go four-and-out on the drive allowing Denison to hang on for the 17-12 victory.
Denison had 337 yards of total offense (99 rushing and 238 passing) and was led by Brandon Sklenar who completed 14-of-20 passes for 238 yards with one TD, but tossed two interceptions. Colin Morris led all Big Red running backs with 67 yards on 20 carries to go along with one score. Hunter Winans led the Denison wide receivers with three catches for 86 yards. Defensively, Zach Pewitt had eight tackles (three solo and five assists) including 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Hiram totaled 210 yards of offense (68 rushing and 142 passing) led by senior running back Caleb Jones (Lake Placid, Fla./Lake Placid) with a game-high 92 yards in 21 carries. Partridge, who was later lost to injury in the second quarter, completed six-of-eight passes for 106 yards with a TD and an interception. James led all Hiram wideouts with four catches for a game-high 97 yards and a TD. On defense, the trio of senior John Davis (Newton Falls), freshman Kyle Burchett (Fairport Harbor/Harding) and sophomore Garrett Primer (Madison) all had a game-tying high 10 tackles.
Hiram will travel to Meadville, Pa. for a NCAC matchup against Allegheny College next Saturday, Sept. 21. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.