The Trine University Thunder opened their 2012 football season on Thursday night, as they hosted the Manchester Spartans at Shive Field.
Trine, with 15 starters returning from last season’s 7-3 campaign, were looking to get the season started in a big way against the young Manchester ballclub.
The Spartans had other ideas as they went toe-to-toe with the Thunder throughout the first half. Senior quarterback Ryan Hargraves had given Trine a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a 2 yard dash around left end.
That was the only scoring until Austin Adams scored for Manchester on a 4 yard scamper with 3:28 to go in the first half, and the Trine faithful were getting a bit uneasy.
But then, in the blink of an eye, senior return man Myron Puryear, who also doubles as one of the best defensive backs in the country, took the ensuing kickoff, started up the middle, headed for the right sideline, and went untouched 92 yards for the go ahead score, and the Thunder had momentum, as well as control of the game back on their sideline.
Trine added a 39 yard field goal by Tyler Keck right before halftime, and the Thunder had some breathing room as they went to the lockerroom with a 10 point cushion at 17-7.
The Spartans made it interesting, as they scored in the 4th quarter to pull within 3 at 17-14, but another short touchdown jaunt by Hargraves sealed the deal for the Thunder.
As you look back and analyze everything that transpired during the contest, in my mind, it was certainly the Puryear kickoff return that changed the fortunes of both teams on this night, and gave Coach Matt Land and his Trine Thunder another season opening W.