SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio—The Storm defense made several key stops late in the game as the Lake Erie College football team came from behind late in the fourth quarter to defeat nonconference rival Notre Dame College 42-35 on the road Saturday (Oct. 11).
The Storm defense forced eight turnovers overall, including six interceptions to set a new program high. Tony Andrews (South Euclid, Ohio/Charles F. Brush) also set a Storm record with four interceptions in the game.
Lake Erie struck first late in the first quarter when Anthony Bilal (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) capped off a 10 play, 80-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. The Falcons answered quickly when Ray Russ found C.J. Germany for a 91-yard touchdown pass. However, Andrew Schickler (Doylestown, Ohio/Chippewa) blocked the extra point to maintain the lead for the Storm.
With less than three minutes left in the opening frame, the Storm effectively moved the ball down the field, going 41 yards in just three plays, ending the drive with a 24-yard Ryan Bitzer (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Organge) touchdown pass to Aaron Lindgren (Willoughby, Ohio/Willoughby South).
The Storm increased their lead to 21-6 in the second quarter when Bilal scored his second touchdown of the game- this time from four yards out. The Falcons scored a touchdown and converted a two-point conversion late in the opening half to cut the lead to 21-14 at the break.
Notre Dame tied the game early in the third quarter on a 13-yard Kenneth Butler touchdown run. The Storm responded later in the quarter with a four-play, 28 yard drive which resulted in a 34-yard touchdown catch by Demarco Rojas (Owings, Md./St. Mary's Ryken) as they took the lead heading into the final frame.
The Falcons tied the game up at 28 in the opening minute of the fourth on a 17-yard touchdown pass. Notre Dame then took their first lead of the game, 35-28, with eight minutes to play in the fourth on a short touchdown pass.
The Storm faced a big third-and-26 on the ensuing drive but Bitzer found Shane Van Fleteren (Shleby, Mich./Utica) for the first down to keep the drive alive. A couple plays later, Bilal broke open for a 43-yard touchdown run to tie the game.
On the Falcons next drive, Maurice Hale (Columbus, Ohio/Beechcroft) picked a Russ pass to give the Storm the ball back late in the quarter. With just over two minutes to play, Bilal scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the game to put the Storm on top, 42-35.
Notre Dame moved the ball down the field with less than two minutes to play but Hale intercepted his second pass of the game to seal the victory for the Storm.
In addition to his two interceptions, Hale shared the team-high for tackles with Nick Iapolo (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) and Davon Daniels (Lorain, Ohio/Clearview) with six stops apiece. Andrews had three tackles to go with his four interceptions. Austin Hoeflich (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) forced and recovered a fumble. Darius Hogan (Fort Myers, Fla./Lehigh) also forced a fumble while DeVen Darby (Deriot, Mich./Farmington Hills Harrison) recovered it. Devante Sims (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar/West Liberty) broke up four passes.
Bilal ended the game with 33 rushes for 228 yards- just short of the Storm record of 235 yards he set against the Falcons last season- and four touchdowns. He now has 18 rushing touchdowns this season. Brandon Phenix (Toledo, Ohio/Maumee) had 66 yards on 16 carries.
Bitzer had an efficient day in his second game as the Storm's starting quarterback. He completed 10-of-22 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Tommy Jackson (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) was Bitzer's top target, catching three passes for 79 yards.
Michael Muzic (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) converted all six of his extra point attempts.
The Storm ended the game with 513 yards of total offense, including 303 rushing yards.
Lake Erie is back at home next Saturday (Oct. 18) for a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) contest against Saginaw Valley State University.