Defense Dominates Second Half in Storm's 31-21 victory

RENSSELAER, IND. - The Lake Erie defense pitched a shutout over the final 38:29, enabling the Storm offense and special teams to overcome a 21-7 deficit and even its record with a 31-21 victory over Saint Joseph's College (Ind.) this afternoon (Sept. 19) at Alumni Stadium in Rensselaer, Ind.

After surrendering a record 637 yards last week in a loss at West Liberty, the Storm (2-2) put together a dominating defensive performance, especially in the second half. Lake Erie held Saint Joseph's to 376 total yards, but only 112 in the final two quarters. 

On offense, the "Thunder and Lightning" combination of senior Tony Howard (Garfield Heights, Ohio/Garfield Heights/Kent State) and sophomore Kameron Alexander (Akron, Ohio/Buchtel) in the backfield combined for 183 of the team's 267 rushing yards. Howard led the way with 94 yards on 20 attempts with touchdown runs of four and five yards. Alexander rushed for a career-high 89 yards on 12 carries.

The Storm scored on their opening possession, with sophomore Dave Romeo (Eastlake, Ohio/Eastlake North) capping the eight-play, 54-yard drive with a 10-yard run. 

Saint Joseph's answered back with three straight scores. Mike Hladik threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Robert Dutton to tie the game and then running backs Jashon Banks and Terrance Freeman gave the Pumas a two-touchdown lead with runs of 76 and five yards, respectively.

The game turned on Saint Joseph's next possession, however. After the Storm defense forced a punt, sophomore Steve Bensinger (Poland, Ohio/South Range) returned the kick 60 yards to make it a 21-14 game. The return was not only the longest in school history but the first kick of any kind to be returned for a score by a Storm player.

The defense again did its job on the next possession and the offense marched 66 yards in eight plays, highlighted by a 37-yard run by sophomore QB Sean Bedevelsky (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick), to tie the game at 21-21, on Howard's run, heading into halftime.

After a scoreless third quarter, sophomore linebacker Kevin Chapman's (Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson) interception set up the offense in Puma territory and Howard plunged in from five for the go ahead points.

Freshman kicker Sam Marcotte (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon) connected on a 32-yard field goal with just under 1:30 to play to seal the win. Bedevelsky completed just 12-of-21 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, but added 59 on the ground on just five carries. 

The Storm totaled 372 yards in the game. Sophomore linebacker Gus Armbruster (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton) led the way defensively with a career-high 18 tackles, including 11 solo stops. 

Banks finished with 110 yards on 14 carries for the Pumas, while Freeman added 87 on 21 attempts. Hladik was 15-of-32 passing for 181 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Lake Erie, off to its best start in the school's two-year varsity history, looks to move over .500 for the first time ever next week when it travels to Adrian College (Mich.) for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday night. The pregame show on Star 97.1 FM will begin at 6:15 p.m.