Dragons win 7th straight with 43-17 win over Panthers

Alex Melfe blocks a field goal attempt at the end of the first half during Tiffin's win over Kentucky Wesleyan.
Alex Melfe blocks a field goal attempt at the end of the first half during Tiffin's win over Kentucky Wesleyan.

Tiffin University (7-0, 4-0 G-MAC) used 27 first half points along with three interceptions and three blocked kicks to streak past Kentucky Wesleyan 43-17 at Frost Kalnow Stadium.

The Dragons set the tone with their first drive of the game. TU drove 78 yards in five plays, capped off with a big 44 yard TD reception by Charles Holland from Nick Watson to put the Dragons ahead 6-0 at the 12:50 mark.

A good kick return set the Panthers up with good position at the 50 yard line. The Panthers drove down to the Tiffin 22 yard line before TU's defense held firm, holding KWC to a 39 yard field goal at 8:49 to make it 6-3, Tiffin.

TU kept the offense rolling with their next possession, driving 64 yards before Watson hooked up with Victor Talley on an 18 yard TD strike at 6:31 to make it 13-3. The Panthers tried to keep things close, hitting a big 80 yard touchdown pass at the 4:31 mark to draw to within 13-10.

It was as close as the Panthers would get, as TU took control and outscored them 30-7 the rest of the way.

Talley hauled in another touchdown pass from Watson, this time from 13 yards out, to finish a 59 yard drive with 57 seconds left in the opening quarter to take a 20-10 lead into the second quarter.

The scoring settled down during the next 15 minutes until TU used a punt block by Justice Waller to get field position in the KWC 25 yard line. Kyle Brunson touched the ball four straight times, finally pounding it in from 5 yards out to give TU a 27-10 halftime lead. The half ended in good fashion for TU, as Alex Melfe blocked a 42 yard field goal attempt as the half ended to give TU good momentum heading to the second half.

The Dragons started the second half off with a statement drive, marching 88 yards on 7 plays as Brunson banged ahead for 43 more yards before Talley caught his third TD of the day, this time on a 31 yard pass from Watson at 9:28 of the third to make it 33-10 Tiffin.

Another big kick return gave KWC good field position again, and KWC drove 47 yards before scoring on a 3 yard pass to pull within 33-17, but again the Dragons answered immediately, driving to the KWC 18 yard line before Joe Harakal drilled a field goal from 35 yards to make it 36-17 Tiffin.

A Jacob Williams interception early in the fourth quarter gave TU the ball on the Panthers' 36 yard line, and three Watson passes coupled with two Watson runs got the Dragons down to the 3 yard line. Brunson then banged it in from 1 yard out to finish the scoring at 43-17.

Overall TU had 24 first downs to KWC's 17, including a 12-2 mark rushing. The Panthers were held to just 48 yards rushing and were picked off three times while allowing three blocked kicks. TU outgained KWC 453 to 326. The Panthers were held to just 2 of 14 third down conversions.

Watson passed for 256 yards on 22 of 29 passing with no interceptions and 4 touchdowns while also rushing for 39 yards.

Brunson had another outstanding day, rushing for 142 yards on 25 carries with 2 scores. Talley had 80 yards receiving and 3 scores, while Charles Holland had 78 yards and Tyler Denton added 58 more receiving yards.

Chrystian Watkins posted 11 tackles to lead the team, while Jacob Williams had 8 tackles with an interception and a deflection. Justin Williams had 6 stops, while Daigien Morgan and Kevin Hyde added 4 apiece. Ross Moore and Daijohn Isbell also had interceptions, with Isbell returning his 42 yards, while Melfe, Zach Goecke, and Justice Waller also had kick blocks.