PAINESVILLE, Ohio—A 67-yard touchdown run by Anthony Bilal (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) late in the third quarter lifted the Lake Erie College football team over Saginaw Valley State University Saturday (Oct. 18) at home in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) action.
Bilal ended the game with 232 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
The Storm scored on their opening drive when Ryan Bitzer (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Orange) connected with Anthony Kukwa (Perry, Ohio/Perry/Ball State) for a 12-yard touchdown pass to cap off an eight play, 75-yard drive.
The Cardinals responded with their own eight play drive which resulted in a 21-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Palka to Andrew Dillon. Andrew Gardner scored on a 31-yard run to give Saginaw Valley a seven point lead minutes later.
The Storm's first drive of the second quarter resulted in a 20-yard field goal by Michael Muzic (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor)- his first field goal of the season- to cut the Saginaw Valley lead to four.
Saginaw Valley moved the ball deep into Storm territory on the ensuing drive but Tony Andrews (South Euclid, Ohio/Charles F. Brush) intercepted a pass in the end zone and brought it out to the Lake Erie 44-yard line. Bitzer then found Tommy Jackson (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) for a 17-yard gain followed by a 28-yard run by Brandon Phenix (Toledo, Ohio/Maumee). Two plays later, Zaide Whitley (Portsmouth, Ohio/Portsmouth) punched it in on a 10-yard run to give the Storm a 17-14 lead.
However, the lead was short lived as Saginaw Valley returned the kickoff 97 yards to regain the lead heading into the halftime break.
On the Cardinals opening drive of the second half, Andrews intercepted his second pass of the day-and seventh of the season- but the Storm was unable to capitalize on the turnover. On their next drive, Saginaw Valley worked the ball deep into Storm territory but Gardner fumbled inside the five which was recovered by Davon Daniels (Lorain, Ohio/Clearview) at the one-yard line.
With their heels on the goal line, Bitzer found Kukwa across the middle for a 32-yard game. On the following play, Bilal broke free for a 67-yard touchdown run to put the Storm in front, 24-21.
The rest of the game was a defensive battle. In the third quarter, the Storm defense allowed a total of just 58 yards while holding the Cardinals to just one-of-four on third down conversions.
The Storm defense stepped it up one more notch in the fourth quarter, limiting the Cardinals to 35 yards on 24 plays. Saginaw Valley did threaten late in the game. With 2:42 left in the quarter, they took over at their 45-yard line and eventually worked the ball down to the Storm 20-yard line. Palka's first down pass was incomplete. One second down, Tanner Wells (Carrollton, Texas/Parish Episcopal) dropped Palka for a sack, setting up a third-and-17. On third down, Palka's pass was incomplete which led to a fourth down field goal attempt. With less than a minute to go, Scott Stanford's 45-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left. After Bitzer kneeled down twice, the Storm sealed the 24-21 win.
Bilal once again came close to his single-game rushing record of 235 yards. On the year, he now has 1,283 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
Bitzer ended the game completing 12-of-17 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. Jackson caught four of those passes for 69 yards. Demarco Rojas (Owings, Md./St. Mary's Ryken) had three catches while Kukwa had two, including his first quarter touchdown. Tavon Charles (Fort Washington, Md./Bishop McNamara), Shane Van Fleteren (Shelby, Mich./Utica) and Aaron Lindgren (Willoughby, Ohio/Willoughby South) had one catch apiece.
Phenix added 43 yards on the ground while Rojas and Whitley combined for 25 yards.
Wells led the Storm with nine total tackles including six solo stops and 1.5 sacks. He now leads the Storm all-time in solo stops with 125 in his career. Austin Hoeflich (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) had seven solo stops and two sacks. Kyle Herth (Harrison, Ohio/LaSalle) made seven stops and assisted on a sack. Devante Sims (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar/West Liberty) had six tackles and a forced fumble. Eric Owens (Chicago, Ill./Leo Catholic) and Christian Cole (Waldorf, Md./McDonough) had five tackles each.
Maurice Hale (Columbis, Ohio/Beechcroft) had two tackles, a breakup and an interception. He has had three interceptions over the past five quarters of play. Andrews had four tackles to go with his two interceptions. He is now tied with Stacy Woodford (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman) for the most in Storm history with seven.
Muzic converted all three of his extra point attempts in addition to his field goal in the first half.
The Storm defense allowed a season-low 373 yards including just 136 passing yards. Offensively, the Storm totaled 407 yards including 243 on the ground.
The Storm is back in action next weekend when they head to Malone University for a GLIAC contest.