ANDERSON — During Anderson University football coach Steve Rock's first season, his Ravens have made great efforts to reverse the tough fortunes of the program over the past decade.
But with a squad largely lacking college experience, there are things still to be worked on, particularly when it's in a rivalry situation such as Saturday's Bronze Ball game with Manchester. One of those is controlling emotions.
The Ravens were called for six unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a 35-6 defeat, most coming after plays were whistled dead.
AU finished the season 2-8 and 2-6 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, and it dropped its last four games.
One unsportsmanlike call came after the Spartans returned a punt 45 yards to the Ravens' 28-yard line, and the penalty took it half the distance to the goal line, and on another instance, AU drew back-to-back 15-yard personal fouls and faced a third-and-49 situation.
"There are a lot of rivalries in the game of football where guys can play with discipline and play without unsportsmanlike penalties," Rock said. "It's just a fact. Some of those called were by accident, but I can tell you some of those reverted back to guys doing things not the way that I'm expecting us to do things."
Rock added some players made decisions that weren't for the good of the team but instead were in the interest of individual glory and demeanor. He said this was an issue at the start of the season, but it improved as the year went on, until Saturday.
"Maybe I as a coach didn't address that prior to the game as to how we were going to approach that, so that's on me," Rock said. "I preached at the start of the year that we were going to try to stay away from self-inflicted wounds."
The Ravens lost to Manchester (4-6, 4-4 HCAC) for the eighth straight year and fell behind 28-0 before scoring early in the fourth quarter.
Manchester got first-quarter touchdown runs from quarterback Austin Roberts (20 yards) and Donovan Henderson (6 yards), and Henderson scored again, from 12 yards out, with 10:17 left in the first half.
A 28-yard halfback pass from Tristan Chester to Nate Tesmer with 1:15 to go in the half put the Spartans four TDs ahead.
Henderson ran it in from a yard out midway through the final period and finished with 170 yards on 32 carries.
AU's Reggie Lipscomb picked up 178 yards on 24 carries, including 118 in the second half.
Lipscomb got the Ravens on the board with a 33-yard scamper with 13:47 remaining in the contest, capping off a 64-yard drive.
That was the only score in four AU incursions past midfield. One drive ended in an interception just before halftime and late in the game, the Ravens moved the ball 70 yards to the Manchester 5, but lost it on a fumble.
Freshman Travis McGuire of Frankton and junior Jarrod Hubble of Pendleton Heights platooned at QB, with McGuire getting most of the reps. McGuire was 4-for-11 for 55 yards and ran 16 times for 58. Hubble was 0-for-5 with a pick.
This concluded AU's 10th straight sub-.500 season. It was 5-5 in 2008 as well as in 2004 and 2005, and its last winning season was 2003 (7-3).
"We have definitely made tremendous strides as a program," Rock said. "While it doesn't show on the win-loss column, it shows everywhere on this campus. It's because our guys have at some level understood some of the things and characteristics we want in our players here and in the way they act and function on a college campus."
Saturday was senior day, and six Ravens dressed for the final time. They were lineman Stephen Marshall from Shenandoah, linebacker Dakota Freuliger, defensive back Kreed Switzer and linemen Dayan Smith, Caleb Wooldridge and Jeremy Davis.