Findlay, Ohio – Something about Senior Day has brought out the best in the Findlay Oilers football team. On Saturday, Nov. 3, celebrating 19 players who participated in the last home game of their careers, the Oilers cruised past Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) foe Malone to the tune of a 63-17 final giving Findlay four straight wins on Senior Day and back-to-back years in which the home squad put up 60 or more points on the scoreboard. With the victory, Findlay is now 7-3 with a 5-2 mark in league play while the Pioneers' struggles continue, falling to 2-7 with just one conference win in seven tries.
Although Findlay would end up dominating, it was Malone who got on the scoreboard first. The Pioneers won the coin toss and elected to receive, putting their electric offense in control to open the game. To negate the explosive return abilities of Malone's Ashton Dulin, Findlay elected to open the game with an onside kick, a strategy they used for the majority of the contest. The Pioneers drove 61 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead, but that did not last long.
After a 35-yard return by senior Jacob Hill, Findlay scored in just four plays, three of which were running plays. Sophomore Brian Benson capped the drive with a 14-yard scamper for the score on what would be a career day.
Another rushing touchdown by Benson would come after the Oilers' defense forced a missed field goal by the Pioneers' kicker, Marcus Moeller. Benson's score put Findlay up 14-7.
Malone answered with a field goal on their next drive to pull within four points, but over the next 50 minutes of game time, Findlay would assert themselves as the more dominant team.
Following the Malone field goal, the Oilers would score 49 unanswered points before Malone finally found the end zone with 2:54 remaining in the game and third and fourth string players on the field for both teams.
As well as Findlay's offense was moving the ball, the Oilers' defense played just as well. After Malone's field goal late in the first quarter, the Pioneers did not pick up a first down until midway through the third quarter as they were forced to punt three times and turned the ball over twice, once on downs.
Findlay's domination started at the line of scrimmage as the offensive line blocked as well as they have all year. The Oilers were able to rush for a G-MAC record 467 yards on the ground, the most rushing yards in a game since the Orange and Black ran for 586 yards at home against Taylor University in November of 1994.
Despite passing the ball just 20 times out of 78 total plays, Findlay did still manage 228 yards through the air for 11.4 yards per completion. The Oilers' total of 695 yards of total offense is the third-most in a game all-time and the most since they gained 703 yards in that same game against Taylor in '94. The Oilers also converted a league-record 36 first downs.
Stealing the headline on Senior Day was sophomore Brian Benson who was as good on Saturday as any back in Oilers history has been. The Mansfield, Ohio native, who entered the game as the league's leader in yards per carry, finished the game with 25 carries for 221 yards and a G-MAC record tying, four touchdowns. Each of his 221 yards and four touchdowns came in the first half of play as he would be pulled after just two carries in the second half went for a combined zero yards. His 221 yards in a single half are the most in school history and, after a 233-yard performance last week, Benson became the first running back since Dana Wright in 1985 to have back-to-back 200+ yard rushing games. Wright rushed for 256 and 281 in consecutive games against Hanover and Defiance, respectively.
Not to be overlooked was the rushing effort of senior Chauncey Bridges who reached the century mark for the first time in more than a year as he finished with 134 yards on nine carries including one score. It marked the first time since 2007 that the Oilers have had a tailback with 200+ yards and 100+ yards rushing in the same game. Joel McDaniel and Jonathan Bell rushed for 212 and 177 against Mercyhurst at Donnell Stadium on Oct. 13, 2007.
Senior quarterback Adam Bertke also had a game to remember as he was as accurate as he has been all season, completing 15-of-19 passes for 226 yards and two scores. Bertke's single game completion percentage of .789 ranks sixth in league history. His favorite target was senior Jason Moore who had seven catches for 125 yards. It was the 17th time in Moore's career that he has eclipsed the century mark, the most in Oilers' history.
Defensively, junior Isaac Miles, sophomore Kyle Gibson, sophomore Jack Trombetti, and freshman Charles Omameh each had six tackles to lead Findlay. Miles and Gibson each had a tackle-for-loss while Gibson recorded a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Getting ample playing time in the contest was freshman Christopher Jefferson who would end up making the most of his opportunity on the field. Jefferson, a native of Euclid, Ohio, matched last week's career-best with four tackles and also added a fumble recovery, the first of his career, and an interception, also the first of his career.
The Oilers will play their final game of the season next week at no. 15 Tiffin which today lost in their defacto conference championship game against no. 25 Hillsdale. Findlay and Tiffin will kick off at 1:05 pm.