|2 Players (#17,#45) - 9||Rushing||#27 Spencer Crisp - 92|
|#11 Iacucci, John - 326||Passing||#15 Everett Pollard - 278|
|#81 Elsass, Eian - 146||Receiving||#10 Grant Hohlbein - 103|
UPLAND, Ind. – Taylor opened its 2017 campaign in thrilling fashion Saturday night under the lights in front of a near-capacity crowd at Turner Stadium with a 28-21 victory over NCAA Division II Malone.
The visitors marched down the field for a score on the evening's opening drive but Taylor countered with the next 28 points of the contest, with Pollard guiding the offense and the TU defense stifling the Pioneers well into the fourth quarter.
MU finally found the end zone again, scoring on a 67-yard pass and again 2:33 later on a 70-yard punt return to cut Taylor's cushion to 28-21, but Dovi Gamble and Cameron Gray pulled down key fourth-quarter interceptions to keep Malone at bay and preserve the win.
Taylor dominated the trenches all night, completely shutting down MU's running game and holding the Pioneers to minus-18 yards on 20 carries. TU racked up 141 yards on 41 rushes, ran 18 more plays that Malone and held an advantage of nearly nine minutes in time of possession.
The TU defense had Malone on its heels all night, piling up four sacks, 11 tackles for lost yardage and nine quarterback hurries to go with the pair of pivotal interceptions. Darius Stanley, Josh Lamica and Cameron Gray each recorded one sack, while Stanley Gilbert and Jeremy Ramirez assisted on one. Stanley also added three quarterback hurries and Gilbert ended with three tackles for a loss, as the defensive tackles provided game-changing plays throughout the contest.
Pollard orchestrated the offense by completing 24-of-36 passes for 278 yards and two scores through the air, while rushing for two more scores and 34 yards on the ground.
Pollard had plenty of help, as Spencer Crisp set career-highs with 30 carries and 92 yards out of the Trojan backfield and Grant Hohlbein turned in a career game with nine catches for 103 yards and one 38-yard touchdown. Nicholas Lamica also excelled with five catches in his TU debut, ending with 49 yards and one fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown.
Austin Gunderson was busy handling kicking and punting duties for TU, pinning Malone inside its own 20-yard line on three occasions and booming a pair of touchbacks on kickoffs.
Taylor improved to 9-1 all-time under Ron Korfmacher in season openers with the win and pushed the 10th-year head coach to within a pair of victories from matching Bob Davenport as the winningest coach in program history.
Taylor (1-0) will return to action on September 16, when it heads to NCAA Division I FCS Butler University (0-1) for a 6:30 pm start.