PAINESVILLE, OHIO – In a battle waged primarily on the ground, with the teams combining for 410 rushing yards, two fourth quarter rushing touchdowns by Joe Glendening allowed 21st-ranked Hillsdale College to escape with a 35-26 victory over Lake Erie College on Homecoming Day in Painesville, Ohio.
The Storm (1-3, 0-3 GLIAC) led 26-21 heading into the fourth quarter but Glendening, who ran for 139 yards on 36 carries and scored four times on the ground and once receiving, found the endzone on runs of 25 yards and thre yards in the final nine minutes to lift the Chargers (3-1, 3-0 GLIAC).
Lake Erie took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards on eight plays. Kameron Alexander (Akron, Ohio/Buchtel) was the hero of the drive with runs of 25 and 18 yards and the two-yard score to finish the series. Alexander finished with 102 yards on 12 carries for his second career 100-yard game.
Hillsdale answered right back with a 13-play, 80 yard scoring drive of their own with Glendening scoring from 10 yards out.
Both teams quickly fizzled on their next drive, but Lake Erie marched down the field for a sustained nine-play, 73-yard drive with the score coming on a 10-yard option pitch by Sean Bedevelsaky (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) to senior wing David Romeo (Eastlake, Ohio/Eastlake North). The extra point attempt was blocked and Lake Erie had a six-point edge at 13-7.
The teams continued their marches down the field as Hillsdale answered right back when Anthony Mifsud found Glendening on third down for a one-yard TD pass. On their next drive, the Storm got a 33-yard field goal by junior Sam Marcotte (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon) to regain the lead, 16-14. In the final two minutes of the first half, Bedvelsky was again able to lead Lake Erie into field goal range and Marcotte converted a 32-yard attempt on the half's final play to give the Green and White a five point edge at intermission (19-14).
Glendending plunged in from a ayerd out to cap a 16-play, 73-yard drive by the Chargers to open the second half. The drive took 8:12 off the clock and put Hillsdale up 21-19.
But Lake Erie responded quickly, covering 68 yards in five plays and just over two minutes. Bedevelsky broke free for a 41-yard scamper on the first play of the drive and then capped the series with a 14-yard score – his third straight game with a rushing touchdown – to put LEC back in front 26-21.
After Hillsdale drove to the eight and Colin McGreevy's field goal was no good, the Storm had a chance to put some distance between the two teams. But Lake Erie went three-and-out and the Chargers subsequently drove 44 yards in four plays, with Glendening covering the final 25 yards for the lead.
Another three-and-out by the Storm was followed by a 9-play, 77-yard drive by the Chargers that made it 35-26 with 4:33 to play.
Lake Erie rushed for 213 yards on 37 attempts, while the Chargers took to the ground 44 times for 197 yards. It was the first time this season the LEC ground game got over the 200 yard mark. In addition to Alexander's 102 yards, classmate Bedevelsky ran 15 times for 69 yards and a TD from the quarterback position.
Bedevelsky was an efficient 17-of-21 through the air for 183 yards. His top target was senior Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) with seven receptions for 87 yards. A 28-yard reception on the game's final play put James, the LEC all-time leader in receiving yards, over the 2,000 yard mark for his career with 2,012.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebackers Cameron Bryant (Lorain, Ohio/Admiral King) and Kevin Chapman each made three solo and six assisted stops. Overall, 12 Lake Erie defenders registered at least three tackles.
The Storm forced Hillsdale into 16 third-down attempts, but the Chargers consistently kept drives alive, converting on 10 occasions.
Mifsud was 24-of-33 throwing the ball for 251 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers outgained the Storm overall, 448-396, and held the ball for 36:05, compared to just 23:55 for LEC.
The Storm is on the road next weekend, with a night game at Ferris State University. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Big Rapids, Mich. with live coverage of the game on ESPN 970 WFU N and online at LakeErieStorm.com.