PAINESVILLE, OHIO – After Lake Erie College (1-0)surrendered 10 first quarter points by Gannon University (0-1), the Storm battled back and took its first lead with 6:24 to play as a nine-yard TD pass from sophomore Brendan Gallagher (Aurora, Ohio/Aurora) to sophomore tight end Cole Gordon (Naples, Fla/Naples/Georgia Southern). Then in the closing minute, senior linebacker Gus Armbruster (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton) intercepted a pass to seal the Storm's 13-10 opening-night victory Thursday (Sept. 1) at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium in Painesville, Ohio.
It was a play of firsts as it was the first career touchdown pass for Gallagher in his first career start under center while the catch was the first of Gordon's career.
Overall, Gallagher, went 20-of-28 for 199 yards with the TD pass and one interception. The Storm controlled the ground game, with 172 yards led by senior Kameron Alexander (Akron, Ohio/Buchtel) with 70 on 16 carries and a score. Senior Patrick Lunney (Mount Shasta, Calif./Mt. Shasta/College of Siskiyous) and freshman Aaron Lindgren (Willoughby, Ohio/Willoughby South) got into the act as well with 50 yards on five carries and 40 yards on three carries respectively.
On defense, the standout performance came from senior linebacker Kevin Chapman (Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson). Chapman was all over the field, making 14 tackles (six solo), with 1.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Fellow senior linebacker Cameron Bryant (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) added seven tackles and 1.5 sacks as the Storm defense managed to down Gannon quarterback Daniel Tapscott.
The win is Lake Erie's first in four meetings with Gannon after suffering defeats by margins of two, one and six points the previous three seasons. The victory also means the Captain's Wheel, a new trophy honoring the winner of the annual Gannon/Lake Erie matchup, will be staying in Painesville this year.
The Golden Knights controlled the first 15 minutes of the game, jumping out to a 10-0 advantage. Gannon kicker Matt Szczupakowski booted a 38-yard field goal to start the scoring and Justin Caliste scampered on an impressive 87-yard punt return for a score.
After two three-and-outs and a lost fumble in their first three possessions, the Storm got on the board at 13:57 of the second quarter on a Alexander one-yard run with the extra point try unsucessful. The key play of the drive was a acrobatic 44-yard catch by senior Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor).
Sloppy play marked much of the game with Lake Erie committing four turnovers and Gannon three. The Storm got inside the Golden Knights redzone late in the first half but turned the ball over on downs and trailed 10-6 at halftime.
In its first drive of the second half, Lake Erie got the ball down to the Gannon one-yard line before losing possession via fumble. Neither team saw the opponent's side of the field the rest of the quarter with Lake Erie taking possession with 9:57 to play down four and at its own 23.
The Storm took to the ground on what would ultimately be the game-winning drive. A 34-yard run by Lindgren got the ball to the Gannon 11 and two plays later Gallagher found Gordon in the end zone.
Gannon's subsequent drive ended a yard short of the first down on a critical 4th-and-5th run by Tapscott and Lake Erie picked up a first down on a 3rd-and-1 run by Lunney to get the clock under the two minute mark.
A Lake Erie punt gave Gannon one last shot as it regained possession with 1:37 to play at its own 23-yard line but the third play of the drive saw Armbruster intercepted a tipped Tapscott throw to seal the Lake Erie victory.
Tapscott was 15-of-34 for 147 yards with an interception in his first career start. He was sacked by a pressuring Storm defense five times.
The Storm is in action next on Saturday, September 10 when they travels to Michigan Tech University for a 1:00 p.m. matchup it its Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener.