Tiffin, OH – Eighteen wins in a row is a rare feat, but it is exactly what the Oilers accomplished in their season-opening win against Tiffin on Thursday, Aug. 31. The 28-13 win against the Dragons gives Findlay a 1-0 record to start the 2017 campaign, the sixth time in seven years under Rob Keys that Findlay has won its season-opener. It is the 18th consecutive win for Findlay against the Dragons with Tiffin's last win against the Orange and Black coming back in 1993.
After weeks of build up and anticipation, the new season, a new era of Findlay Oilers athletics as the Orange and Black now call the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) home, got off to a rough start. Findlay received the ball to open the game but a turnover on the Tiffin 28 yard-line allowed the Dragons to score first. The Green and Gold eventually built a 10-0 lead through one quarter of play.
The Oilers opened the second quarter with a three-and-out which led to the first touchdown of the season, a six-yard score from senior Daouda Sylla. Just four minutes later, Sylla would again scamper for a touchdown, this time from eight yards out, after the Findlay defense again forced a three-and-out. The two scores gave Findlay their first lead of the year at 14-10.
The Orange and Black made it 21 straight points when, after the Oilers' defense forced a third straight punt, junior Rhys Gervais found senior Airion Kosak for a 21-yard touchdown to close out the half.
Both teams would struggle in the third quarter as they would combine for four turnovers, one of which came on downs.
After a Tiffin field goal with six minutes remaining, Sylla would rush for his third touchdown of the game, again from eight yards out, to put the Oilers up 28-13, the final score.
Findlay would finish with 483 yards of total offense, 337 of which came on the ground. With 48 rushing attempts, the Oilers tailbacks would combine for 7.0 yards per rush.
Sylla, a native of Ypsilanti, Mich., would finish the day with career highs with 28 carries and 183 yards on the ground. The three rushing touchdowns for Sylla give him seven scores in his last two games as the tailback had four TDs in the 2016 season finale at Michigan Tech. With the three rushing touchdowns, Sylla tied the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) record set by Brandon Jones of Aldernson Broaddus who rushed for three scores twice in 2016.
Fellow Michigan running back, senior Chauncey Bridges, also had a big game out of the backfield for Findlay. The Farmington Hills native ran the ball 19 times for 138 yards, the eighth time in his career he has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in a game. It is the second game in a row that Sylla and Bridges have each reached the century mark on the ground.
With the success on the ground, junior Rhys Gervais threw just 19 times, completing eight for 146 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Junior Jason Moore was the leading receiver with two catches for 51 yards while sophomore Jacob Allton had two receptions for 29 yards and junior Jacob Hill caught two balls for 27 yards.
Junior Francis Cutchember led the defense with nine tackles on the defensive side of the ball. He also had a pass broken up. Junior Justice Jenkins, senior Johnny Hopkins, and junior Chiebuka Chukwuneke each had seven tackles while sophomore Isaac Miles had six for an Oilers defense that held Tiffin to 377 yards of total offense.
The Oilers are next on the field on Saturday, September 9 when they take on a top-five opponent in Ferris State. That game, the home-opener for Findlay, will kick off at 7:00 pm at Donnell Stadium.