Week 9 Preview | Oilers Seek Fourth Consecutive Win as Lake Erie Invades Donnell Stadium
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Findlay is officially on a winning streak now as the last three games have ended in lopsided victories for the Orange and Black. After a 1-4 start, the Oilers are now back to .500 and look to improve on that number with a home game against Lake Erie College on Saturday, Oct. 29 at noon in Donnell Stadium.
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Head Coach Allen
Head Coach Kory Allen is in his first year at the helm of the Findlay football program and, as an assistant, has helped lead the Oilers to multiple NCAA D2 Playoff appearances and a Great Midwest Championship. Allen has spent 16 years on staff in various other roles including offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, and recruiting coordinator.
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Findlay Oilers (4-4, 3-2 G-MAC)
Don't look now but the Findlay Oilers are officially on a win streak. Despite a 1-4 start to the season and multiple injuries to key players, the Orange and Black have climbed back to .500 on the season and have rattled off three consecutive victories against conference opponents. In those three wins, the Oilers have outscored the opposition 119-41. Now into fourth in the conference standings, Findlay is still hoping for another winning season and a potential berth in the Crossroads Bowl which will be attended by the highest finishing non-playoff team of both the G-MAC and the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC).
First things first, the Oilers have three games remaining. Lake Erie, Walsh, and Tiffin are all that stand in the way of the team's resolution made after a Week 5 loss to Ferris State; 6-0 with six to go.
Over the course of the last three games, Findlay's offense has been about as balanced as is possible. 602 yards have been picked up on the ground while 597 have come through the air for 1,199 yards of total offense. The defense has stepped up in that time frame as well, allowing just 687 yards of total offense and picking up nine takeaways.
Last week in the win against Hillsdale the Oilers split time at quarterback with Jeremy Hunt and backup Alec Bornhorst. Both players delivered with multiple scoring drives as Findlay had their way with the Chargers. On the season, Hunt has now completed 110 passes for 1,461 yards and 11 touchdowns while Bornhorst, who has been more of a running threat at QB, is 6-for-13 for 73 yards through the air and has 14 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Garret Clark is the leading rusher and has 130 carries for 711 yards and now is up to 1,524 yards in his career. He has five touchdown runs this season, the same number he has had in each of the previous two years. Jayden Farmer is taking the bulk of the carries as Clark's backup and has compiled 74 carries for 360 yards and four touchdowns. In the last three games alone, Farmer has 41 totes for 216 yards and a team-high four scores. Derek Lynch is still a home run threat out of the backfield. He doesn't touch the ball a lot, but when he does, look out. Last week Lynch recorded a 71-yard touchdown run against Hillsdale and also had a 50-yard reception.
Through the air, Tanner Schroeder has been the go-to for Findlay. He has 38 receptions this season for 465 yards, but has only found the endzone once. The Macomb, Ohio native is well on his way to being a top-five all-time receiver at Findlay as he is just 463 shy of Jason Hamby (1995-98) for fifth at UF in career receiving yards and is 26 receptions shy of Rick Hatfield (1976-79) for fifth at UF in career receptions. Tight end Mike Rigerman has 22 receptions for 372 yards and three scores while freshman Bryan Hunt has 13 receptions for 212 yards and a team-high five touchdowns.
On defense, Grey Brancifort, who has converted to defensive end now due to injuries, leads the Oilers with 62 tackles and has 4.5 tackles-for-loss. However, over the past three games, Findlay's leader has been freshman Sam Weihrauch who has 31 stops in the last three weeks, the most on the team by 13. Next is Romaro Warren Jr. who has 18 stops in the last three games. Dalton Rockhold has 14 tackles in the winning streak and leads the team with 7.5 tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks.
About the Opponent – Lake Erie (3-5, 3-3 G-MAC)
To say that the Lake Erie Storm have struggled for the entirety of the program would be a fair statement. All-time the Storm have a record of 42-111 and, in the 15 years of football, they have just one winning season, a 7-4 record in 2009. Since joining the G-MAC in 2017, Lake Erie has had two winless seasons and have been under the tutelage of now three head coaches.
However, there is a sense of optimism around the team from Painesville this season as the program has appeared to take a turn for the better. Although they boast a record of 3-5, the Storm are coming off of back-to-back wins including a win last week against G-MAC newcomer Northwood. Also, of those five losses, two have come by less than five points including a four-point loss in the season-opener to Hillsdale. With a head coach that earned first team all-conference as a wide receiver in the South Eastern Conference (SEC), has coached in the National Football League (NFL), and is the younger brother of all-pro wide receiver Anquan Boldin, the Storm have some momentum brewing.
A big part of that momentum circles around the play of their senior quarterback Gerald Gardner who last season was a second team all-conference selection. This season Gardner leads the G-MAC in passing yards, yards per game, passing touchdowns, and passing attempts. So far he is 165-for-280 for 2,255 yards and 19 scores while only throwing five interceptions. In his career the Lake Erie standout has thrown for more than 5,000 yards and has 41 touchdowns. Saturday will likely be no exception as the Storm will rely heavily on his play.
His favorite target this year has been senior Peyton Brown who has hauled in 44 recptions for 763 yards, second-most in the G-MAC. He also ranks third in the league with eight touchdown receptions . In sixth in the league with 565 receiving yards in senior Nate Dantley, a two-time second team all-G-MAC selection. He has put up gaudy numbers in his five years at Lake Erie, amassing 2,459 yards and 12 touchdowns. Junior Jovohn Tucker is the third of a triple-threat of wide outs for the Storm. Tucker has 31 catches for 540 yards and seven scores. Lake Erie is the only team in the conference with three receivers at 500 yards or more this season.
Starting running back Raphael Jones Jr. is listed as out for this week which has junior Keep Kpoto listed as the starter for Saturday. Kpoto has 49 carries for 162 yards this season, picking up just 3.3 yards per carry.
The Storm defense has created opportunities all season long as they lead the G-MAC and rank ninth in the country with 10 fumbles recovered this season and rank 12th in the country with 19 turnovers gained.
The leader of the defense is junior defensive back Cameren Grodhaus who has 67 tackles including three tackles-for-loss this season. He also has a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery to his credit. Senior Jayme Vincenete-Colon has 59 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception while senior Karry Debose has 48 stops and a fumble recovery. Sophomore defensive back Jaden McCray leads the team with three interceptions this season.
Findlay has won nine consecutive games against Lake Erie dating back to 2011, but this year's Storm are certainly not going to roll over and will rely on an electric passing offense with a big-play defense to try and achieve the upset.