Findlay, Ohio – A game that went down to the wire a season ago, the University of Findlay football team left no doubt as to which team deserved the win on Saturday, Oct. 19 in Donnell Stadium. The Oilers handled the defending Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) Champion Hillsdale College Chargers to the tune of a 41-16 victory. With the win Findlay improves to 5-2 on the year with a 4-1 mark in conference action and slide up into second in the league standings. Hillsdale, with the loss, drops from second to fourth in the standings as they now have a 2-1 record in conference play and are 4-3 overall. With the win, the Oilers ended Hillsdale's 14-game in-conference winning streak, the longest streak in the young conference's history. The Chargers' last loss in league play came on Oct. 14, 2017 when the Oilers traveled to Hillsdale and defeated the Chargers 31-13 in the NCAA Showcase Game of the Week on ESPN3.
Last season, trailing 20-17, Findlay quarterback Adam Bertke's diving attempt was stopped short on a play at the goal line and controversially fumbled which resulted in a win for the Hillsdale Chargers. Fittingly, Findlay's first score on Saturday came on a five-yard scramble by the Oilers new quarterback, junior Matt Winzeler, who held the ball out in front as he strutted across the goal line untouched in the same north end zone where last season's heartbreak last occurred.
That score set the tone for the day.
Hillsdale would answer with a touchdown of their own and actually took the lead at 7-6 due to a missed extra point by Findlay. The Oilers then rattled off 21 unanswered points, including a drive that covered 78 yards in just over a minute to end the half. It was their highest scoring second quarter of the season and gave the Orange and Black a commanding 27-7 lead into the break.
The Oilers outplayed the Chargers in every aspect of the game, primarily in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
Findlay outgained Hillsdale 468-323 including their fourth 200+ yard rushing performance of the season with 221 yards on the ground.
Behind a stout offensive line, Junior Brian Benson, back after missing three weeks due to injury, was the Oilers' leading rusher. He carried the ball 16 times for 92 yards while senior Nate Slagel averaged more than ten yards per carry, picking up 64 yards on six rush attempts. Despite the balanced success on the ground, Saturday broke a streak of ten straight games with a 100+ yard rusher.
Also benefiting from his offensive line was junior quarterback Matt Winzeler who, for the third time this season, made it through the game without being sacked. Winzeler had arguably his best passing performance to date as he completed 21-of-31 passes for 197 yards. He also threw for a career-high four touchdowns, something that had not been done for Findlay since Adam Bertke threw for four TDs against Tiffin in the season finale a year ago. Winzeler added to his performance with three carries for 26 yards on the ground including his first quarter touchdown.
Junior Derek Lynch made two catches for 66 yards and a touchdown in the game while Ruben Flowers had six catches for 64 yards. Senior Luke Stuffel showed why he is one of the nation's premier tight ends as he made four catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a ball that Stuffel elevated for and ripped away from two defenders.
The Oilers defense, which came in leading the league in run defense, gave up just 72 yards on the ground against an offense that averaged 152 yards on the ground. Findlay finished the game with ten tackles for loss and a season-high five sacks.
The leading tackler in the game was junior Cade Rogers who finished with nine tackles, one TFL, and a pass breakup. Senior Eriq Fadahunsi, who also had a tackle-for-loss, and sophomore Christopher Jefferson each had seven tackles. Jefferson made it four consecutive games with an interception, as well, when he picked off a pass on Hillsdale's first drive of the third quarter. With the takeaway, Jefferson now has eight interceptions on the year, one shy of the program record set by Jon Huffman in 1984 and Andre Roberts in 1989. He also became the first player to record an interception in four straight games in the same season in Findlay history.
For the Oilers' defense, 12 different players recorded a tackle-for-loss while seven different players were in on at least on sack. Senior Grant Kinsinger led the way with 1.5 tackles-for-loss including a sack while junior Kyle Gibson had a strip sack that caused a Hillsdale turnover in the fourth quarter.
There can be no let up as the Oilers will travel to Notre Dame (OH) next Saturday, Oct. 26 when they will take on the Falcons who were a national semifinalist a season ago and are currently ranked no. 6 in the country. That game will kick off at 12:00 pm.