Starting quarterback Michael Engle and starting wide receiver Alex Koors expressed their disappointment following the game and acknowledged they lost to a solid football team.
"It was just a great team, a great defense," Engle said. "They had a good game plan and they executed it and they played really hard. (They) just had a great game. Unfortunately we weren't able to overcome that and lost to a very good team."
"We started off well, but we just didn't execute very well," Koors added.
The Tigers did in fact start well, marching down the field to score the game's first points and taking a 7-0 lead, but DePauw watched as Trine ran off 27 unanswered points to seize a 27-7 lead in the first quarter.
DePauw cut the lead to 27-14 when Engle found Taylor Wagner for a three-yard score with 8:34 left before the half. The Tigers struggled in most aspects of the game in the first half, but were still able to move the ball, but failed to find the endzone. Things would change after the half.
DePauw outscored the Thunder 21-18 in the second half, but the first half hole they dug for themselves proved too much for the Tigers to overcome.
"I think at halftime we re-focused and got to settle down a little bit," Long said. "We were pressing out there in all three phases and the important thing regardless of who the opponent is, when you're on this stage and you're playing championship football, you got to do what your job is. You have to execute your plan and like these guys were saying, we got away from that a little bit the second quarter. We came in at halftime, re-focused them and came out and played our type of football. But we could not -- we just couldn't keep it going."
Engle hit Brayden Dahlstrom for an apparent touchdown around the nine-minute mark, but a penalty pulled the points off the board and the Tigers had to try once more to cross the goal line. Instead of shying away from his previous target, Engle fired a shot to Dahlstrom who was met at the goal line by a Trine defender. A fierce hit knocked the ball loose, but not before the senior had crossed the line for the score.
Down 27-21, it didn't take the Tigers long to take over the lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, returner Aaron Selking was hit by the Tigers' Ben Brandstatter knocking the ball loose; Jake Konovsky pounced on it to give possession back to DePauw.
It took DePauw just seven plays to reach the endzone, as Engle crossed the line for a one-yard score, giving the Tigers the lead 28-27. That would be the last lead they would enjoy.
Trine scored on a 59-yard strike from quarterback Eric Watt to Ja Vontae Hence to take back the lead 35-38. On a stage so big, DePauw has some magic still up its sleeve.
DePauw's final score of the game was perhaps its most exciting play of the game. After three rushed from Jon Ellis, Engle dropped back, let the ball fly and connected with a diving Alex Koors for a 38-yard touchdown with 13:31 left in the game. The score tied the game 35-all.
However, Trine scored another touchdown and followed that up with a field goal to extend its lead to 10 with 3:41 to play.
DePauw looked to be marching down the field and destined to cut the lead to three points as Engle hit Koors and Nathan Evans on a pair of first down strikes. Unfortunately, on his next pass Engle was intercepted by Brandon Killingbeck to close the book on the Tigers season.
Engle threw for 380 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Koors led all receivers with 10 catches and 175 and a touchdown, with Dahlstrom adding 124 yards on nine catches and a score. Ellis led the Tigers in rushing with 45 yards.
The Tigers ended their season with a record of 9-2 and made the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year.