PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Senior quarterback Sean Bedevelsky (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) capped off his stellar career with a game for the ages as the Lake Erie College football team, trounced on the road in last year's finale, avenged that loss with a thrilling 45-42 victory Saturday (Nov. 12) over Ashland University on Senior Day at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium in Painesville.
Bedevelsky rushed for a season-high 99 yards and a school single-game record-tying three touchdowns and completed 17-of-23 passes through the air for 262 yards and two touchdowns. One of those touchdowns went to fifth-year senior wideout Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) for what proved to be the winning points. James had six receptions for 114 yards.
The duo's big day led Lake Erie (3-8, 2-8 GLIAC) to a season-high 502 yards on offense, erasing memories of last year's disappointing finish and closing out the career of 27 players with a second consecutive win.
Ashland (6-5, 6-4 GLIAC), which rolled up nearly 700 yards of offense in a 87-17 win a year ago over a Storm team without an injured Bedevelsky, led for less than three minutes in the second half. The Eagles had the final possession of the game, but Taylor Housewright's Hail Mary attempt at the end was batted down.
"A lot of guys would have given up in week five, week six, week seven," head coach Mark McNellie said after the game. "But our guys continued to fight each week, play hard and never give up. I couldn't be prouder of a group of young men."
The Storm drove 62 yards on their opening possession and a 22-yard field goal by Sam Marcotte (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon) gave the Storm a 3-0 lead.
Ashland answered back on their first play from scrimmage with Housewright connecting with Anthony Capasso for the first of three touchdowns between the pair on the day, this one a 64-yard strike. That lead was short-lived as Lake Erie drove 84 yards in 13 plays in 6:21, the final 41 yards coming on a season-long scamper by Bedevelsky to make it a 10-7 game.
The back-and-forth affair earlier on continued as Jordan McCune scored from a yard out to retake the lead. But Lake Erie scored on back-to-back drives, a one-yard run by Bedevelsky and a 13-yard pass to sophomore wing Mike Thomas (McDonald, Ohio/McDonald) t hat put Lake Erie up 24-14 at halftime.
The Storm's lead could have been 13, but Marcotte just missed a 59-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. The kick had plenty of distance, but was a foot to the left of the uprights.
Though stunned, the Eagles responded to start the second half the same way Lake Erie ended the first – with successive touchdown drives. Housewright threw a 10-yard pass to Capasso for one and McCune added a three-yard run to give the Eagles a 28-24 edge.
But as they did all day, the Storm answered back. Bedevelsky moved the team 76 yards in seven plays, scoring from 11-yards out to give the Storm back the lead. Then, after a 34-yard punt return by freshman Ramon Alexander (West Bloomfield, Mich./Walled Lake) set Lake Erie up at the Ashland 27, fifth-year senior David Romeo (Eastlake, Ohio/Eastlake North) ran through the Eagles' defense for the touchdown to put the Storm up 10 at 38-28.
Romeo, who had missed the last two games with a dislocated elbow, rushed for 48 yards and had another 39 receiving on the day.
Ashland went 80 yards on 14-plays to close within three, the final 18 yards coming on a pass from Housewright to David Soucie.
James, who had set up Bedevelsky's one-yard run with a diving 31-yard grab in the second quarter, made another highlight reel play on the Storm's next drive. He took a quick screen pass on the perimeter and after breaking away from three defenders, raced down near the goal line, carrying a defender into the endzone for the 33-yard touchdown that pushed the margin back to 10.
Those points would prove to be necessary when Housewright connected with Capasso on a fourth-and-four for a 28-yard touchdown with 5:56 to go to make it 45-42.
But the Eagles chose to kick away and the Storm responded by running 5:48 off the clock in 10 plays. Marcotte's 27-yard punt to the Ashland 19 set the Eagles up with just one second remaining.
A wild and desperate, lateral-filled play appeared to be the final one of the contest, but a roughing the passer penalty on the Storm gave Ashland one last chance from their own 43. But Housewright's pass to Eric Thompkins into traffic was knocked down to secure the victory.
The Storm's balance attack included 240 yards on the ground and 262 in the air. In addition to Bedevelsky, freshman Rod Smith (Bartow, Fla./Bartow) ran for 59 yards – including a 38-yard run, and Romeo added his 48 and the Storm's fourth rushing touchdown.
Housewright, who threw for four touchdowns last year against the Storm, completed 23-of-37 passes for 330 yards and four touchdowns. Neither he nor Bedevelsky was intercepted.
D.J. McCoy led the Eagles with 62 yards rushing while McCune had 58 and the two touchdowns. Ashland came into the game averaging 186.6 yards on the ground, but was held to just 103 on 33 attempts.
Senior outside linebacker Kevin Chapman (Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson) and classmate Gus Armbruster (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton) each had nine tackles to lead the Storm defense. Chapman had 1.5 sacks and Armbruster had one and a forced fumble in their final game.
Cody Bloom made a game-high 12 stops, eight solo, for Ashland, which ended the season with two consecutive defeats.
In addition to Senior Day, Lake Erie College recognized area veterans and active military personnel with a special halftime program that included a presentation of the giant American Flag used at nearby Classic Park.