The University of Findlay football team suffered a heartbreaking 42-36 loss at home to Grand Valley State University on Oct. 25 in Donnell Stadium. The loss gives the Oilers a 4-4 record on the year with a 3-4 mark in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play.
The Lakers jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game, but the Oilers fought back with a 22-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Tyler Bugeja and a 23-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Chauncey Bridges. Grand Valley State would then open up a 21-9 lead with 14:55 to play in the half, but the Oilers used some trickery to score on a fake field goal attempt.
Stopped inside the ten, the Oilers lined up for a field goal on fourth down. Senior quarterback Jesse Slone, who was holding on the play, flipped the ball to sophomore defensive end Mitchell Campbell and he ran it in for a 7-yard score. The play cut the lead to six at 21-15 with 10:24 to play in the opening half.
After another score by the Lakers, the Oilers used a school record 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by senior defensive back Nathan Morris to make the score 28-22 with 6:43 remaining in the second. The six point deficit would not last however as the Lakers scored on the ensuing possession to make the score 35-22.
Trailing by 13, senior quarterback Verlon Reed found junior wide receiver Tim Szabo on a 10-yard touchdown pass and catch with only 21 ticks remaining in the half. The score cut the Lakers lead back to six at 35-29.
The second half was drastically different than the first as each team scored only once. The Lakers tacked on a touchdown in the third quarter and the Oilers scored early in the fourth when senior wide receiver Lloyd Henry snagged a 34-yard touchdown pass from Reed.
Trailing by six at 42-36, the Oilers needed a big stop on defense late in the fourth quarter and got one when Morris forced a fumble that was recovered by senior safety Harold Jones-Quartey. The Oilers were unable to pick up a first down however and the Lakers regained possession of the ball, eventually running out the clock.
Reed finished the game by completing 28-of-42 passing attempts for 299 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 86 yards on 13 carries.
Henry caught ten balls for 130 yards and a score en route to setting the school record for career catches. Henry has now made 157 career catches and came into the game needing only three receptions to eclipse the record of 149, which was set by Seth White (2010-13).
Szabo caught six passes for 88 yards and a touchdown while red-shirt sophomore wide receiver Dylan Blunk made four catches for 64 yards.
Morris racked up 114 yards in kick returns and his 100-yard kick return for a score marked the first time a NCAA Division II player has accomplished the feat since Brandon Scott did it for Central Washington on Nov. 24, 2007. His school record breaking return also bettered the old mark of 93 yards, which was set by the Oilers Adam Burdette against Wayne State in the 2000 campaign.
Senior linebacker Eric Palmore-Lett led the Oilers defense with ten tackles while Jones-Quartey had eight stops. Senior defensive end Kevin Brewton added six tackles and three tackles for a loss while senior linebacker Zach Matracia picked off a pass.
The Oilers out-gained Grand Valley State 476-418, but allowed 304 rushing yards as Chris Robinson powered his way to 261 yards and three scores.
Findlay will be back at home next week for their final home game of the season against Wayne State. Kickoff is slated for a noon start.