When Robby Schuler returned a Rose-Hulman pass interception 38 yards for a touchdown and Taylor Wagner returned a punt 38 yards for a score it was just the jump start DePauw needed.
After struggling through the first two quarters, DePauw's offense rolled up 200 yards, 14 first downs and scored nine points the second half to cap the 23-13 victory at Cook Stadium in Terre Haute.
"It doesn't matter how you put the points on the board. All three phases of the game have to contribute. You hope your special teams can contribute, you hope your defense can score. We talk about it every day when we're (practicing) those units," third-year DePauw coach Robby Long said.
DePauw opened the second half with an 11-play, 68-yard drive to the Rose-Hulman 1-yard line, where the Engineers forced a fumble and recovered the loose ball.
But on the drive, quarterback Ethan Schweir, making his first varsity start, completed passes of 14 yards to junior Taylor Wagner and 11 yards to senior Steve Ganser, plus senior Jon Ellis and sophomore Armani Cato ran the ball effectively.
Schweir completed 14-of-17 passes for 129 yards the second half and ran 14 yards for the game-clinching touchdown with 10:02 to play.
"It's that first game jitters (the first half). I've been waiting for three years. I haven't played in three years. I've been getting those back up reps (in practice). I finally got a shot. I was a little frazzled, but everybody calmed me down the second half and we started clicking," Schweir said.
Schweir was one of several DePauw seniors making their first varsity start after sitting by classes that qualified for the NCAA Division III Playoffs two years in a row. That was another reason it was important to win the first game.
"(Winning the opener) was our number one goal this year. We've got a lot of goals, obviously, but that was our first one because you got to get that to get rolling," Schweir said.
Led by senior defensive back Ben Brandstatter with 11 tackles and one forced fumble and sophomore linebacker Mitch Dwenger with eight tackles, two for a loss, DePauw held Rose-Hulman scoreless for two-plus quarters. The Engineers scored with 6:05 left in the third.
Eric Malm kicked a 29-yard field goal that gave DePauw a 17-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Rose-Hulman started moving the football in the fourth quarter when quarterback Mitch Snyder slipped grasp of a DePauw defender and flipped a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Jordan Nielson.
But three plays later DePauw ended the drive when Schuler recovered a Rose-Hulman fumble. The Tigers ate up the next three minutes with a 7-play, 75 yard drive.
Schweir completed passes of 16 and 15 yards to junior tight end Bobby Coburn and found senior Mike Harris for a three-yard gain. After handing off to running back Jon Ellis, on third down and one, Schweir kept it himself for a 14-yard touchdown run.
"The thing I was pleased about was (Schweir) went through some rough patches (the first half) and didn't lose his cool and he was able to move the football at the end when we needed to," coach Long said.
With DePauw leading 23-6, Rose-Hulman's offense found some running room and grabbed the late momentum. The Engineers put together a five-play, 79-yard touchdown drive and scored with 8:29 to play.
"I was a little disappointed (with the defense). I felt like the scores we gave up there at the end, we shouldn't have. It was just guys making mistakes," coach Long said.
"You got to give credit to Rose-Hulman. They're a good football team and they're going to make plays. But as a defense we wanted to put a shutout up there on the board and weren't able to."
DePauw returns to action Sept. 17 at Allegheny. The Tigers' first home game this season is Oct. 1.
DePauw 7 7 3 6 -- 23
Rose-Hulman 0 0 6 7 -- 13
DPU -- Schuler 38 interception return (Malm kick) 7-0, 8:23.
DPU -- Wagner 38 punt return (Malm kick) 14-0, 13:17.
RH -- Sena 15 pass from Snyder (kick failed) 14-6, 6:05.
DPU -- Malm 29 field goal 17-6,:05.
DPU -- Schweir 14 run (kick failed) 23-6, 10:02.
RH -- Nielson 7 pass from Snyder (Schneider kick) 23-13, 8:29.
First downs 24 15
Rushes-yards 43-112 25-51
Passing yards 276 280
Comp-Att-Int 29-42-1 25-42-2
Total offense 85-388 67-331
Time of Poss. 40:01 19:59
Punts-Avg. 7-37.1 6-44.7
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 6-50 3-35
Rushing -- DePauw: Ellis 26-75, Cato 9-31, Schweir 7-4, Coleman 1-2. Rose-Hulman: Kovach 17-35, Snyder 7-20, Sena 1-(-4).
Passing -- DePauw: Schweir 29-42-1--276. Rose-Hulman: Snyder 25-42-2--280.
Receiving -- DePauw: Coburn 6-89, Wagner 6-66, Ganser 6-52, Harris 4-27, Crook 3-22, Ude 2-16, Schoen 2-4. Rose-Hulman: Nielson 7-117, Sena 6-84, Kovach 6-33, Coeman 3-14, Snneberger 2-21, Stiffler 1-11.
Punting -- DePauw: Malm 7-37.1--49. Rose-Hulman: 6-44.7--53.
Defense (sole-assist-total) -- DePauw: Branstatter 9-2-11, Dwenger 5-3-8, Quinn 5-2-7, Schuler 5-0-5, Johnson 1-4-5, Price 4-0-4, Valdiserri 3-0-3, Burr 2-0-2, Callicutt 2-0-2, Robinson 2-0-2, Fultz 1-1-2, Wilkerson 1-1-2, Ganser 1-0-1, Alexander 1-0-1, Wagner 1-0-1, Coburn 1-0-1, Wood 1-0-1, McManis 1-0-1, Crook 0-1-1. Rose-Hulman (leader): Gallagher 10-2-12, Green 7-5-12.
Next game -- DePauw (1-0) travels to Allegheny, Pa., Sept. 17.