PAINESVILLE, Ohio (August 28, 2008) - One Erie, Pa. newspaper predicted a guaranteed win for Gannon University this evening, and with just under two minutes to go, readers who bought that line were ready to ask for their money back as Lake Erie College's final run came up just short, resulting in a 24-22 loss for the Storm.
In front of a crowd of just more than 2,000 at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium, the Storm took center stage for the first time as not only a varsity team, but as an NCAA Division II provisional member. For the first time, Lake Erie faced a real opponent, not just this season, but in program history. For the first time, the score and statistics counted. And for the first time, Lake Erie showed the world they should be taken seriously.
The Storm's Tony Howard (Garfield Heights, Ohio) made history rushing over the goal line eight minutes into the first quarter on a two-yard run to record the first touchdown in the program's record books. The first official fan frenzy ensued - complete with thunder sound effects booming in the background - as freshman Cameron Szatala (Lorain, Ohio) kicked the point after to make it 7-0 Lake Erie. Gannon responded with a score of its own just two and a half minutes later to tie the score.
The second quarter had Gannon tallying its second and third TDs for the night, the first one after a 30-yard run to open the period. The Golden Knights stopped the Storm in its next series before scoring again to go up 21-7.
The Storm trailed by 14 at the half, and came out of the break tentatively. After nine plays and 48 yards to open the second half, Lake Erie fumbled the ball on the Gannon 28. The Storm defense, led by David Heck (North Lima, Ohio), picked up the momentum, stopping Gannon in its tracks with a sack that forced a fumble which was recovered by Gannon. The Knights were forced to punt a play later.
In the next drive, Storm freshman quarterback Sean Bedevelsky (Brunswick, Ohio) completed two passes for a gain of 20 yards - 14 of which came on a pass to Dave Romeo (Eastlake, Ohio). A Demetrius Gray (Cleveland, Ohio) rush for 16 yards put the ball on the Gannon eight-yard line where Howard took the ball in for his second touchdown of the night. The point after was converted by Szatala to put the Storm down 21-14 with just under six minutes in the quarter. Gannon followed with a field goal for the final points of the period to go up 24-14.
In the fourth quarter, an interception resulted in a safety for the green and white to put Lake Erie within eight points of its guests with 13:16 to play. Both sides remained scoreless until the Storm found the end zone with 1:26 remaining on the clock on a 12-yard run by Gray. Trailing by two, the Storm went for the two-point conversion but were unsuccessful. Gannon wouldn't do any damage in its possession, giving the ball back to Lake Erie on its own 24-yard line for another chance at a historic victory.
Bedevelsky hit Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio) twice for a total of 15 yards before two long incomplete passes saw the time expire on the Storm's final opportunity for a win in its first varsity game in program history. Howard finished the night as the team's leading rusher with 68 total yards in 22 carries. Romeo tallied 64 yards rushing in five carries for a team-leading average of 12.8 yards. On the receiving end, James tallied 82 yards with a team-high nine catches.
The Storm (0-1) now takes to the road for its next game on Sept. 6 against Fairmont State University at 1 p.m. and will look to ruin any other guarantees that may be promised to the host school's fans.
Story written by Kristy Booher, Lake Erie College Director of Sports Media Relations.