TIFFIN – With construction of the new Hoernemann Stadium still in progress, the No. 20 Heidelberg University football team looked like a finished product in a 72-7 season-opening win over Alma College. The Student Princes amassed a school-record 696 yards of total offense in the rout.
Tailback Cartel Brooks, who ended the 2013 season with an NCAA All-Divisions record 465-yard rushing performance against Baldwin Wallace, racked up 192 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries.
On the other side of the ledger, the Heidelberg defense held the Scots to 195 yards of total offense. The secondary, which lost three starters to graduation, came up with four interceptions – including two by senior Tim Littles.
After punting on the opening possession, the Student Princes scored on its next three drives.
Brooks opened the scoring with an 88-yard touchdown rush. Receiver Christian Dominguez sealed the edge, which allowed the senior from Galion to get around the corner and race through the secondary. Stephen Smith connected on the first of nine extra points.
Safety Cale Sandridge intercepted a tipped pass on Alma's next possession and returned it into Scot territory. It took the Tricolor seven plays to hit paydirt again, as Brooks scampered in from 10 yards out.
Another interception, the first of the game for Littles, gave the 'Berg offense the ball deep in Alma territory. The offense turned the pick into points with a 12-yard pass from quarterback Michael Mees to Donteea Dye.
In the second quarter, running back Cameron Vocke spelled Brooks and picked up 40 of the 76 yards on Heidelberg's next scoring drive. Vocke scored on a 21-yard rush, sneaking inside the pylon for the first rushing touchdown of his career.
Mees and Dye connected for another touchdown midway through the second. Dye snatched the ball away from a pair of defenders in the corner of the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown. It was the 69th touchdown pass of Mees' career, which ties him with Andrew Miller for the Heidelberg record.
Mees was 15-of-18 passing for 184 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
After the defense forced its third three-and-out of the day, Brooks broke free down the left sideline for a 77-yard touchdown run.
Alma's next drive covered 74 yards, but ended with a goal line stand for the stingy Berg defense. On 4th-and-goal from the two, Clay Staib and preseason All-American Ben Poirier wrapped up freshman quarterback Dylan Zoborowski in the backfield for a three-yard loss.
Staib finished with a team-high 12 tackles.
Running their hurry-up offense, the Student Princes capped off the first half with an 85-yard drive. Smith connected on a 28-yard field goal by Smith as time expired, giving HU a 45-0 lead at intermission.
Smith opened the scoring in the second half with a 22-yard field goal. A junior organ performance major, Smith finished the day with 15 points.
On the first play of the ensuing Alma possession, Alex Rentz picked off a pass by Brent Luplow and returned it to the Alma 22.
Bryan Lacey, who missed most of 2013 with an injury, carried the ball on four of the next five plays. He scored from the one, which pushed the lead to 55-0.
Zaborowski led the Scots (0-1) on their only scoring drive of the overcast afternoon. The 14-play, 80-yard drive ended on an 8-yard quarterback draw by Zaborowski.
In the fourth quarter, Heidelberg (1-0) piled on 17 points, only passing in 3rd-and-long situations. Vocke scored his second touchdown – a 14-yard run – with 13:04 left.
Vocke finished with 76 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
Second-string quarterback Jon Sandwisch played the whole second half and was 10-of-12 for 120 yards.
Jose Sanchez carried the ball six times on Heidelberg's next possession, which ended with his second career touchdown – an eight-yard carry.
Kicker A.J. Morrison capped the scoring with a career-long 46-yard field goal with 1:51 remaining. It was just the third time in 85 years that the Student Princes eclipsed the 70-point plateau.
"I thought Mike [Mees] and Jon [Sandwisch] both did a great job, and our running backs did wonderful," said head coach Mike Hallett, who is 8-0 in season openers at Heidelberg. "But I think the story of the day was the defense. They created four turnovers and two red-zone stops...if they can do that every week, we will be in great shape."
The 72-point explosion is the tenth-highest total in the history of Heidelberg football, which dates back to 1892.
After a bye week, the Student Princes will open Ohio Athletic Conference play at No. 10 John Carroll on September 20. Heidelberg will look to avenge last year's stunning 48-7 defeat.