Findlay Looks to Upset #2 Ferris State

Findlay Looks to Upset #2 Ferris State


The Game

The Oilers will host the second ranked team in the country in Ferris State University on Saturday, September 9 in Donnell Stadium. Findlay's home opener will begin at 7:00 pm. Findlay is looking to defeat a top 5 NCAA DII opponent for the first time in school history. 


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The Series

The Bulldogs hold a slight edge in the series with a 14-11 advantage over the Oilers. However, Findlay has only beaten Ferris State four times since 1998 ('98, '02, '09, '11). The first contest between these schools was played in 1934, a game which the Oilers won by a score of 12-6.

Head Coach Rob Keys

Head coach Rob Keys is in his seventh season at the helm of the Oilers football program in 2017.  He has recorded a 39-27 record with the program as a head coach, which includes a 34-26 mark in conference games. Keys has led the Oilers to five winning seasons in his six years as head coach.

For Findlay's 2017 coaching staff, please click on the following link:

2017 Coaching Staff

The Oilers

The University of Findlay football team is coming off of its fifth season-opening victory in six tries under head coach Rob Keys after a 28-13 victory over Tiffin on Thursday, Aug. 31. After the impressive victory, the Oilers, who return one of the most proven quarterbacks in the nation along with an experienced offensive line, a 1,000-yard rusher, a 1,000-yard receiver, and an improved defense, have received votes in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) National Poll.

In the victory over Tiffin, the Oilers were led by an unlikely source, unlikely at least to those outside the football program. The gameplan heavily involved senior Daouda Sylla who had a career night out of the backfield. He rushed the ball a career-high 28 times for a career-high 183 yards. He also tied the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) record for touchdowns in a game with three. But Sylla wasn't the only tailback to impress. Senior Chauncey Bridges, the team's leading rusher a season ago, also broke the century mark with 138 yards on 19 carries.

With the two impressive commodities running the ball, it feels as though some of the pressure can be taken off the back of junior quarterback Rhys Gervais, who had a below-average game by his own standards in Week 1. Gervais is arguably the best quarterback in Findlay and has set nearly every record in the book as the Oilers starter. To date, the Puyallup, Wash. native has thrown for 6,334 yards on 472-of-759 passing, 61 of which have been for touchdowns. Each of those marks is a school record. One record Gervais has yet to catch is Bo Hurley's 7,538 yards of total offense. Gervais currently has 6,440 yards, just 1,098 shy of Hurley.

Perhaps the most improved unit on the field is the Oilers' defense. After allowing ten quick points in the first quarter against Tiffin, Findlay held the Dragons, who last season scored 31.4 points per game, to just three second-half points. The 13 points allowed are tied for the lowest in a game in the last two seasons.

2017 Season Statistics
2017 Roster

The Bulldogs

Ferris State opens their season ranked #2 in the country by the American Football Coaches Association and was a consensus top five team nationally in every preseason Division II national poll, including as high as #1 by College Football America. The Bulldogs are coming off a season in which they finished 12-3 and advanced to the National Semifinals for the second time in school history with a regional championship victory over GLIAC rival, Grand Valley State. It was the team's third straight national playoff berth and tied a school record for wins in a season. In the past three seasons, the Bulldogs have compiled a 34-5 record, have won two conference championships, and posted two undefeated regular seasons.

The Bulldogs return a potential Harlon Hill candidate in quarterback Reggie Bell who, with 1,081 rushing yards last season, marked the fifth consecutive year that Ferris State has had the nation's leading rusher among quarterbacks (Jason Vander Laan led QBs in rushing in each of his four seasons). Bell returns as one of five preseason all-Americans for the Bulldogs. The others include junior defensive end Zach Sieler, senior center Jake Daugherty, senior cornerback Tavierre Thomas,  and junior offensive lineman Devon Johnson. Sieler, Daugherty, and Thomas all attained all-American status last season and Sieler was named as the Football Gazette National Defensive Player of the Year.

The Bulldogs are led by head coach Tony Annese, now in his sixth season. With Ferris State, Annese has compiled a record of 49-12 (.803) and is a perfect 3-0 against the Oilers.

2017 Schedule
2017 Roster

Against Top-25 Teams

The Oilers have a 2-9 record against nationally ranked opponents since head coach Rob Keys took over the Oilers football program in 2011. Their two wins came against #22 Wayne State (43-42 OT) in 2011 and against #10 Saginaw Valley State (29-27) in 2012. The Oilers will take on nationally ranked Ferris State University in Week 2 of the 2017 season.

Two-Tailback System

When the 2016 season began, Chauncey Bridges was the clear choice as the team's #1 running back. He proved to be just that with 1,229 yards. Towards the end of the year, Daouda Sylla, a converted linebacker, picked up some steam and finished the year with a solid 592 yards.

In the final game of the year, Bridges ran for 161 yards on 20 carries while Sylla reachd 169 yards on 22 carries. He also scored four touchdowns.

They proved this success was not an anomaly as they each eclipsed the 100-yard mark against Tiffin on Aug. 31.

Surprise Sylla

Daouda Sylla has made the transition to running back flawlessly. In 12 games as a tailback, Sylla has rushed for 775 yards and 8 touchdowns, seven of which have come in his last two games.

With his three touchdowns lsat week, Sylla is currently tied for the most rushing touchdowns this season. Only eight players in the country rushed for three TDs in the opening week. Sylla is also ranked 11th in the country with 183 rushing yards.

G-MAC Preseason Poll

The Oilers were picked to finish third in the eight-team Great Midwest Athletic Conference this season. Findlay received two first place votes and is selected to finish behind Ohio Dominican and Hillsdale College. Alderson Broaddus, last year's G-MAC champion, received one first place vote.


NCAA Division II Stats
NCAA Division II Football
American Football Coaches Association
Great Midwest