ALLIANCE - A week earlier at Mayer Field, Heidelberg coach Mike Hallett was less than enthusiastic, sounding almost disappointed despite the fact that HU had defeated Muskingum, 28-14.
On Saturday in Alliance, Hallett's demeanor and tone was different.
And so was the result.
The No. 17 Student Princes lost to No. 1 Mount Union, 33-14. But they left the field with their heads up.
"It's a good day for Heidelberg," Hallett said after the game. "It's not as good as it could have been, but it's certainly showing progress of the team we can be.
"I'm much more pleased with our guys then I was last week," he said. "They responded this week."
For one thing, the score didn't indicate the closeness of the contest. Heidelberg took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field against the vaunted Mount Union defense. Cartel Brooks was strong on the drive, rushing five times for 30 yards. Quarterback Michael Mees added some big completions, finding Mario Escalante and then Bryan Lacey for 11 yards each.
On a third down from the Raiders' 11, Mees found C.J. Powell over the middle in the end zone.
The points were significant for a few reasons.
n They were the first points scored against Mount Union by an Ohio Athletic Conference opponent this season.
n The touchdown propelled Heidelberg to a lead it held until late into the second quarter, marking the first time Mount Union had trailed after the first quarter since the 2010 Division III national championship game.
* Most importantly for Hallett and his players, the score made a statement.
"We came out, just executed the game plan that coach Hallett had for us," said Heidelberg tight end Brett Wiedemann. "We knew we could compete with them if we just came out with intensity and on fire."
Going up a defense that had allowed one touchdown all season, Heidelberg's offense was relatively effective. Six of its possessions ended in Mount Union territory. But the Raiders were stout after the opening drive, holding the Student Princes to only a missed field goal and a touchdown in the game's final 10 seconds.
Still, the game stayed tight deep into the second half, thanks to a strong effort from the HU defense. Mount Union was forced to punt on its first two offensive possessions, then, after driving to the Heidelberg 12, was turned away on downs.
The Raiders finally got on the board when quarterback Kevin Burke delivered a pass to Shannon Stewart, who angled down the sideline for a 37-yard touchdown.
But the extra point failed, and Heidelberg retained the lead at 7-6.
The Raiders took the lead later in the quarter, when Burke screened the ball to Julius Moore, who appeared to be stopped a few times, but kept his feet and went 29 yards for a score. The two-point conversion failed, and Mount Union went to the half up 12-7.
"It's ... don't back down," said HU defensive end Stephen Fejedelem, who finished with a sack and five tackles. "We went toe-to-toe with them, we know we're strong; we're good players."
But Mount Union pulled away in the second half, scoring three touchdowns against what appeared to be a tired HU defense. Burke found Chris Denton for a 29-yard touchdown pass in the third, then Blair Skulliter ran 22 yards to make it 26-7.
Any hopes of a comeback were dashed by a 15-play, 80-yard drive by the Raiders that ate up 9:30 of the clock, and ended when Burke went in untouched from three yards out with 2:46 left.
The Student Princes played a portion of the contest without two key players - Brooks and linebacker Dawson Gore.
Brooks was sidelined after getting banged up after a kickoff return, though he returned in the second half. He still finished with 70 yards on 14 carries. Gore, who wreaked havoc all day, finished with a team high nine tackles, had two for a loss and also had a sack. But the Bellevue graduate also left the game for a time with an injury.
"Dawson played his tail off," Hallett said.
Heidelberg then executed an 11-play, 75 yard drive in the final seconds. Mees reached the end zone after a 1-yard jaunt, drawing a roar from a heavily-populated HU fan section.
The performance is sure to impress others, as well.