After struggling through a 23-game drought, the Haskell Indian Nations University football team proved the adage, "when it rains, it pours," on Saturday.
The Fightin' Indians blew out Trinity Bible College, 68-0, in their homecoming game at Haskell Stadium, earning their first victory since the 2000 season.
"Our guys were ready to play," HINU coach Eric Brock said. "They came in confident, and even though it wasn't as clean or as perfect as I'd like to see it, it was good enough for the win, and that's the whole point."
The Lions (0-7) brought just 18 players to Lawrence, but Brock said that didn't give his team a false sense of confidence.
"They're another college team and they wouldn't be playing if they didn't have the ability to score and keep the other team from scoring," Brock said.
The Lions stopped the Fightin' Indians (1-6) on Haskell's first drive when Peter Hahn's pass was intercepted.
Junior cornerback Brett Blythe made up for the mistake a few moments later, picking off Derrick DeBoef's pass in the end zone. It was the first of Blythe's four interceptions, doubling his season total.
"I had a bad week last week," Blythe said. "And I wanted to come back and play well and redeem myself."
Haskell gave the ball back three plays later on a Nick Wade fumble, but after giving up two first downs the Indians' defense forced a turnover on downs.
"When one side of the ball makes a mistake, the other side makes up for it," Brock said. "I think they're finally getting to the point where they understand that it doesn't matter what kind of adversity happens Â you just go out there and play ball."
Haskell mostly ran the ball on the ensuing 93-yard drive, gaining 66 of those yards on the ground. Freshman Joe Claunch finished the drive with a 23-yard run, giving Haskell a 6-0 lead.
On the first play after another Blythe interception, Hahn found Chris Muniz wide open in the middle of the Lions' zone defense and Muniz ran past the secondary for a touchdown. Hahn's two-point conversion pass to Adam Anderson gave the Fightin' Indians a 14-0 lead.
Wade scored on a 13-yard run after another three-and-out by the Lions and the rout was on.
"We were hungry," Claunch said. "We've been waiting for this moment for a long, long time. We've been working really hard and we finally put it all together."
Haskell scored on its next six possessions, taking advantage of four more DeBoef interceptions.
Claunch, who missed the team's first six games because of an injury and had been awaiting the status of his eligibility because of a military exception, finished the game with 171 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries.
Wade joined Claunch as Haskell's only 100-yard rushers this year, carrying the ball 18 times for 142 yards and five touchdowns.
Haskell gained 535 total yards Â 398 rushing and 137 passing Â to Trinity Bible's 148.
Haskell has two weeks to wait until it's next game, Nov. 9 against Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo., but Brock said he wouldn't let his players become complacent after Saturday's rout.
"We're going to keep them practicing," he said. "And keep them involved with maybe some scrimmages and do things so they don't lighten up. We're not going to give them much time off.
"This was a big-time step for our guys to get some confidence and to start off something that can keep happening every game. We need to ingrain it in their minds that every week should be the same, that winning should be a given."
Haskell 68, Trinity Bible 0
TBC 0 0 0 0 Â 0
HINU 14 21 20 13 Â 68
HINU Â Joe Claunch 23 run (kick failed)
HINU Â Chris Muniz 47 pass from Peter Hahn (Adam Anderson pass from Hahn)
HINU Â Nick Wade 13 run (Brett Blythe kick)
HINU Â Sam Farve 20 run (Blythe kick)
HINU Â Wade 2 run (Blythe kick)
HINU Â Claunch 58 run (Blythe kick)
HINU Â Wade 4 run (kick failed)
HINU Â Wade 46 run (Blythe kick)
HINU Â Claunch 10 run (Blythe kick)
HINU Â Wade 11 run (kick failed)