A chorus of raucous cheers hit the humid air, and the stadium lights flash across the field like a stage. Two teams clash in the heat of competition, poised on either side of the Rose-Hulman football field. The ball soars high, with tensions even higher. The entire stadium holds its breath for a single moment before a deafening roar rings through the night as the DePauw Tigers score a touchdown. 

Image courtesy of Annika Christiansen.

DePauw’s intense match against Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology was a tense battle. The schools had fought through football for many years, with DePauw narrowly taking the win for the past two years in a row. Though the Tigers emerged victorious once again, this time with a much bigger lead, their game was tumultuous throughout. They began with a steady lead, with multiple touchdowns adding up to an early score of thirteen, taking them far ahead quickly in the game. However, their opponents didn’t stray far behind.  

“At the start of the game, we started to pull away with the lead.  We had to regain our focus to realize that they were not a far distance to regain the lead. We had initially anticipated a low-scoring game, so to get up a few scores was surprising to us, but also scary,”  said Gus Baumgartner ‘24, senior running back.

Image courtesy of Annika Christansen.

Still, despite the early-game nerves and Rose-Hulman scoring a touchdown of their own, the lead was looking promising. In collaboration with Baumgartner, sophomore running back Caden Whitehead ‘26 assisted with a strong kickoff return. The two running backs worked together to score another several points for the Tigers, taking their score up to twenty points. 

“[I]t was my first collegiate football kickoff return, and taking it almost to the other side of the field was a great feeling for me,” Whitehead said. 

However, the lead didn’t last forever. Both teams were facing difficulties of their own, and DePauw was risking its role as a successful underdog. By halftime, the score was just short of a tie, with Rose-Hulman leading by a single point. With the game’s tension at an all-night high, the evening’s immense heat wasn’t helping. 

Image courtesy of Annika Christiansen.

“The hot weather put a lot of people out of the game on both teams. The hot weather mixed with the humidity was gassing everybody out for sure.For me, I couldn't finish the game. I had to stay on the sidelines for the last drive of the game because I was cramping in my hamstrings,” said Brevon Gude ‘24, senior captain. 

The weather wasn’t the game’s only difficulty. Across the entire first half, the teams went back and forth in a furious power struggle. Rose-Hulman threatened DePauw’s lead up until stealing it all together just before halftime, and it was up to the Tigers to steal it back. With the lead up for grabs, and the players finding their footing, it could’ve been anyone’s game. 

“The most challenging part of the game was dealing with the ebbs and flows of the game,” Baumgartner said. “Not having a game in the last nine months, you certainly forget how the game can be so back and forth. So getting back into the rhythm of relying on both offense and defense was difficult initially.”

Image courtesy of Annika Christiansen.

However, later in the third quarter, DePauw began to move past its difficulties on the field and rapidly regained its lead in the game. Although Rose-Hulman wasn’t going down easily, fighting back against the Tigers’ regained winning streak, DePauw’s own defensive senior Cortez Stoudemire intercepted the Engineers’ attempts at victory in a maneuver many players were sure to remember. From then on, DePauw pushed forward and got all the way to 33 points before the end of the game, a full dozen ahead of Rose-Hulman. Seizing victory for the third year in a row, the DePauw Tigers exploded into this year’s football competition and brought home their first win of the season. Still, having started out the night as the underdogs, many players found the victory itself all the more rewarding. 

Image courtesy of Annika Christiansen.

“The most rewarding part of the game was winning at their home stadium,” said Gude. “For the season opener, under their lights, and proving that we are in fact the better team, it wasn't just flukes or luck that we won the last two years.”