Pipkin, Holland and Dragons dominate NMU

Quarterback has almost 500 total yards, receiver catches 20 passes as TU goes 8-3

PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO TU’s Antonio Pipkin gains some yards to set up first score as Northern Michigan CJ Washington pursues Saturday at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.

Tiffin University had the connection it needed Saturday.Antonio Pipkin to Charles Holland.

Again and again.

Short passes. Medium-range passes. Long bombs.

It was all there, and it was all unstoppable.

Twenty times Pipkin found Holland, three times for touchdowns, in the Dragons’ 56-7 throttling of Northern Michigan Saturday at Frost-Kalnow Stadium in TU’s regular-season finale.

It was a day of records. Holland — who became the Dragons’ fourth receiver to go over 1,000 yards in a season — set a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record for receptions in a game. Pipkin, who threw for 292 yards and five touchdowns while running for 205 yards and two more scores, registered a GLIAC record for most career passing yards (9,671).

It’s fair to say that in what was likely his final game for the Dragons, Pipkin was practically flawless.

He completed 27 of 29 passes. He wasn’t intercepted or sacked.

“He accounted for almost 500 yards by himself,” said Tiffin coach Gary Goff, with a touch of awe in his voice. “Everything was clicking today, working on all cylinders.”

The Dragons finished the season by winning their final three games to finish 8-3. In those final three contests, they put up a stunning 143 points.

“We knew we had to come in here and send our seniors out the right way,” Holland said. “And just go out here and give it all we’ve got for the seniors, because this is their last ride.”

Others enjoying that last ride included running back Jerry Brown, a McComb graduate who ran for 30 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown rush in the first quarter, and defensive end Willie Mays, who recorded a sack and a half. In fact, while it was overshadowed by what Pipkin and Holland did, TU’s defense played one of its best games, holding a high-powered Northern Michigan offense to just 212 total yards.

“Our defense did a phenomenal job,” Goff said. “Really, the only play they had the whole game was the quarterback draw.”

Strong safety Carrington Contee led the defense with 12 stops. Shawn Scott and Ross Moore each had interceptions for TU, while Delan Wynn recovered a fumble.

But the story of the day was Pipkin, who has sights on playing somewhere next year.

“He was very emotional before the game,” Goff said. “And that’s what I told him. ‘Don’t look at this as your story’s over. This is just the end of a chapter.'”

Pipkin, who has started for most of his four-year career, already has plans for the offseason. He said he’ll train with quarterback trainer and TU graduate George Whitfield, who is working to get him into some all-star games.

“I’m gonna continue to pray,” Pipkin said. “I’ve been blessed to come this far, and I know God has a plan for me.”

Pipkin also completed two touchdown passes to Jordan Nobles. Northern’s Michigan’s lone score came late in the third quarter, when quarterback Jaranta Lewis found Julian Crum for a 6-yard touchdown pass. The score made it 49-7.

As the game wound down, the players talked about wanting to douse Goff with Gatorade. When left tackle and fifth-year senior Max Pollom — another player who started in his freshman year — found out about it, he decided he wanted the assignment.

“Some of the guys were like ‘Hey, we’ve got to get him with the Gatorade,'” Pollom said. “And I’m like, ‘I have to be the one to do it. I have to be part of it.’ I was able to do it. It was nice seeing him smiling.”

Pollom’s first season was all the way back in 2012, Goff’s second. The Dragons were 3-8 that year.

“Me and coach, the whole way through (this season), we’d look at each other like, ‘Is this really … is this reality?'” Pollom said. “We finally got to that point where we can start winning these games and put up these big numbers.”

After the game, Goff said the Dragons still had an outside, outside chance at the D-II playoffs. But to finish at 8-3, with three straight dominant wins, was important.

“It speaks volumes about how this team has worked all year long; it was a kind of the next-man-up mentality,” he said. “We had a lot of season-ending injuries all year, and the next man stood up and played. After Week 2, if you’d have told us we’d have ended the season at 8-3, I’d have looked at you maybe a little crazy, because it was the unknown. We had a lot of new guys playing because of injury.

“The future’s bright here,” he said. “That’s for sure.”