Panthers Turned Over in 27-24 Setback at Findlay
FINDLAY, Ohio – Despite outgaining Findlay 451-309, Ohio Dominican's football team turned the ball over three times and fell 27-24 on the road in a GLIAC South Division matchup at Donnell Stadium.
With the setback, ODU falls to 3-4 (2-4 GLIAC), while the Oilers improved to 4-3 (4-2 GLIAC).
The Panthers ran for a season-high 299 yards and held the GLIAC's top-rushing offense mostly in check, holding the Oilers nearly 80 yards under their season and limiting them to 3.9 yards per carry. But the three turnovers, including two inside the Findlay 20 and one that was returned for a touchdown, proved costly.
Senior Mike Noffsinger (West Branch, Mich.) ran for 136 yards and a touchdown, senior Jeremy Fudge (Eaton, Ohio) had 113 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, and sophomore Ronnel Spates (Cleveland, Ohio) had 50 yards on the ground. Fudge completed 19-of-27 throws for 152 yards, while seniors Brandon Robinson (Eaton, Ohio) and Tyler Purcell (Franklin, Ohio) both hauled in eight passes. Robinson finished with 65 yards and Purcell 75 in the air.
Junior Eisen Hardy (Pickerington, Ohio) led the defense with 13 tackles, sophomore Justin Bell (Groveport, Ohio) had nine stops and an interception, and juniors Eli Kovach (Eastlake, Ohio) and Kevin Guthrie (Gahanna, Ohio) both had eight tackles. Sophomore Garrett Wilcox (Streetsboro, Ohio) made seven tackles and had two sacks in the first quarter.
Trailing 27-17 in the fourth quarter, ODU drove to the Findlay 14, but a fumble halted the drive. ODU's defense came up with a stop, though, and the Panthers offense responded. ODU picked up a pair of third downs on completions to Robinson and Purcell, and Spates ran for 22 yards to the Oiler six. On the next play, Fudge kept it himself up the middle for the score to make it 27-24 with less than five minutes left.
The defense came up with another stop, and the Panthers took over with 2:21 left. ODU faced a third-and-one on its own 39 and picked up the first down, but fumbled on the play as the Oilers recovered. Findlay picked up one first down and ran out the clock for the win.
The Panthers took a 10-0 lead early, scoring on their second drive, with Robinson making a nifty catch on the sideline on a third-down play to keep the drive alive. Fudge then kept it himself on an option play and ran 36 yards untouched down the far sideline for the score.
ODU's defense stopped the Oilers on downs on the ensuing possession, then ran the ball on seven straight plays to reach the Findlay 19. The drive stalled, though, but senior Chris Vortkamp (Cincinnati, Ohio) cut a 37-yard field goal through the wind to put ODU in front 10-0 early in the second.
Bell snuffed out Findlay's next drive, undercutting an Oiler receiver to make a diving pick on the ODU 19 with 8:34 to go in the half. The Panthers then embarked on a 16-play drive, consuming 7:44 on the clock and reaching the Oiler 15-yard line. But D.J. Williams intercepted a screen pass and took it back 84 yards for a touchdown to cut the Panther lead to 10-6 right before halftime.
Findlay scored on its opening drive of the second half, punching it in on fourth and goal from the Panther one to take a 13-10 lead. The Panthers punted, and the Oilers then converted two third-and-long plays en route to their second touchdown of the quarter, opening their lead to 20-10 with 4:49 to go.
ODU's offense responded, though, mixing in the run and short, quick passes to put up their first points of the half on a 12-play, 85-yard drive. Fudge kept it himself on fourth and one at midfield to get the first down, and Noffsinger ran it in from nine yards out to make it 20-17 with 54 seconds left in the third. His touchdown equaled Nathan Clark's career record of 21 rushing touchdowns.
But the Oilers came right back, using a 50-yard run to get inside the Panther five and scoring two plays later to regain a 10-point lead one minute into the fourth quarter.
Ohio Dominican's 451 yards were a season-high, and the 309 yards allowed was its second-best effort of the season. The Panthers also converted a season-high 27 first downs, and the 299 yards were the second-best total in school history.
The Panthers return home next Saturday to host Tiffin at noon in Panther Field.
Contact: Scott Miles