Oilers Win Fifth Straight on Windy Day in Findlay
Findlay, Ohio – The University of Findlay football team defeated Walsh University on a windy day in Donnell Stadium, taking down the Cavaliers by a score of 20-7 on Saturday, Nov. 5. The victory is the fifth consecutive for the Oilers who own the longest current win streak in the conference and guarantee yet another winning season for the program, the 11th in the past 12 seasons. Findlay is now 6-4 on the season and boast a 5-2 record in Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) play while Walsh falls to 1-8 overall and 1-6 in the conference.
Over the course of the Oilers win streak, Findlay had been forced to play from behind as they had been outscored in the first quarter 41-24. However, the saving grace has been the final three quarters where the Orange and Black have outscored their opponents 137-17 including allowing just three points in the second quarter in the previous four games combined. That trend would end on Saturday as Findlay never trailed in the win.
With 25 MPG straight-line winds and 40 MPH gusts on Saturday, offense was at a premium and points were hard to come by.
Walsh received the ball to begin the game and put together a solid drive, traveling 46 yards in ten plays and reaching the Oilers' 29-yard line. However, because the Cavs were playing towards the south endzone, directly into the wind, a field goal was out of the question on forth down and they were forced to punt.
A 44-yard field goal by sophomore Austin Snyder capped a five-minute drive by the Oilers and put the home team on top 3-0. It was the seventh field goal of 40-or-more yards of the season, the most in program history.
The Oilers forced a three-and-out and then went on an 11-play drive that ended with another field goal by Snyder, this time a 29-yarder back into the wind.
After an interception by freshman Sam Weihrauch gave Findlay the ball, but a pair of plays for loss forced a punt.
Findlay's defense came up big on the ensuing series for the Cavs when, on third-and-eight from the Walsh 45, senior Kyle Nunn came up with a big sack, forcing a punt.
History would follow.
Sophomore punt returner Dominic Bennett fielded the punt at his own 16-yard line cut up the right side past the initial wave of tacklers. He then went to his left across the field to the far sideline where he outran the Cavaliers' punter and raced into the endzone for a touchdown. It was the first punt return for a touchdown in 17 years, the last coming in 2005, a 75-yard return for a score by Darren Paige against Ferris St. on October 1 of that year. Bennett's return is the fourth-longest since 1977 and the first return over 80 yards since Chuck Heard who had a pair of 90-yard returns in 1990.
The score of 13-0 took both teams into the half.
On the Oilers third drive of the half, senior Derek Lynch did as he has done for much of his career, picking up 36 of the team's 52 yards on the drive, capping the effort with a six-yard touchdown run, his fourth rushing touchdown of the season.
With the score at 20-0, Walsh did answer with a touchdown on their next possession, making the score 20-7 with 15 minutes to play. Findlay ran the ball 13 times out of 22 plays to essentially ice the game and secure the victory.
Neither team eclipsed the 300-yard mark offensively. Findlay finished the game with 272 yards on 63 plays while the Cavs managed 259 yards on 61 plays. The Oilers had 142 yards through the air and 130 on the ground.
The differentiator on Saturday was special teams and turnovers. Walsh threw three interceptions which halted potential scoring drives. Findlay returned those interceptions for a combined 37 yards, shortening the field for its' offense. The Oilers also returned three punts for 92 yards and had two kick returns for 53 yards for a total of 182 return yards.
Senior Jeremy Hunt and senior Alec Bornhorst took the snaps for the Oilers and combined to complete 14 passes for 142 yards. The longest pass play of the day was a 32-yarder from Hunt to his brother, freshman Bryan Hunt. B. Hunt recorded a game-high 65 receiving yards.
On the ground, sophomore Garret Clark had 19 carries for 71 yards while Lynch had 11 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Dominic Bennett was the catalyst on Saturday as he tallied 113 total return yards, 22 of which came on kickoff returns and 91 on punt returns, including, of course, the 84-yard touchdown return.
Senior Marqis Stokes led the Oilers with eight stops including six solo tackles while sophomore Johnny Harris and junior Grey Brancifort had seven tackles. Harris also had a tackle-for-loss, a pass breakup, and a blocked field goal to his gaudy stat line. Kyle Nunn recorded the lone sack for Findlay's defense, one of two tackles on the day.
Findlay will wrap up their regular season on the road on Nov. 12 with a trip to take the Tiffin Dragons. That game will kick off at noon from Frost-Kalnow Stadium in Tiffin. Depending on results from around the league, a victory may warrant a berth to the Crossroads Bowl for the Oilers, a game that pits the highest-finishing non-playoff team from both the G-MAC and the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) against eachother.