PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Through the first two weeks it was the offense that generated big numbers and headlines, but it was a spirited defensive effort that led the Lake Erie College football team to its first win of the season with a 35-17 victory over Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe Wayne State University Saturday afternoon (Sept. 21) at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium.
The Storm (1-2, 1-1 GLIAC) held Wayne State to just 252 yards of total offense and only four pass completions while causing four turnovers in one of the most dominant performances on that side of the ball in the programs history.
And it was also the defense that made the biggest play of the game to turn the momentum in the Storm's favor. With the game tied at 7-7 and the Warriors (1-2, 1-1 GLIAC) driving deep into Storm territory, Wayne State running back Doug Griffin lost the handle on a fourth-and-one play and redshirt senior defensive end Isaiah Bell (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty/Michigan) scooped up the ball at the three and raced 97 yards behind a caravan of blockers for the first Lake Erie defensive touchdown since the 2009 season.
Sophomore Anthony Bilal (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) added touchdown runs of 19- and 18-yards later in the quarter – his seventh and eighth rushing touchdowns of the season – and the Storm had a 28-7 halftime lead.
Stefan Terleckyj kicked a 37-yard field goal on the Warriors' opening drive of the second half, but LEC responded with a 13-play, 72-yard drive, capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from redshirt senior Brendan Gallagher (Aurora, Ohio/Aurora) to redshirt junior Tommy Jackson (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) and a 35-10 lead.
Carl Roscoe's 36-yard pass to Dominuque Maybanks set up a three-yard run by Desmond Martin with 12:27 to go in the fourth for a 35-17 score, but the Storm defense forced a three-and-out on Wayne State's next possession and sophomore Marquan Richardson (Dayton, Ohio/Wayne/Lindsey Wilson) made a diving interception at the Wayne State 12 on the Warriors final possession to seal it.
In the final quarter, the Storm held the ball for 11:41 compared to just 3:19 for Wayne State.
The 252 total yards were the fewest the Storm has given up since holding Gannon University to just 228 yards in the 2011 season opener. Wayne State was just four-of-20 as a team throwing the ball for 53 yards, the second lowest total allowed by the Storm ever and best since 2008.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Austin Hoeflich (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) made a game-high 13 tackles, including a sack, while also recording his first career interception. Junior Tanner Wells (Carrollton, Texas/Parish Episcopal) had nine stops while Bell had two tackles and a sack for the Storm.
Lake Erie's offense registered a season-low total, but still picked up 341 total yards. Bilal rushed 31 times for 138 yards and the two scores while Gallagher added a five-yard scoring run in the first quarter. The Storm signal caller completed 14-of-20 passes for 142 yards and the touchdown to Jackson. He was not intercepted.
Jackson caught six passes for 82 yards.
Toney Davis ran 23 times for 97 yards and a touchdown for Wayne State while Martin added 68 yards on 13 attempts. Roscoe was three-of-17 passing for just 39 yards and a pick. He was sacked twice.
Ed Viverette, last week's GLIAC Defensive Player of the Week, made 12 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, and Nores Fradi added 11 stops for the Warriors.
The Storm, who picked up their earliest conference win in their four-year history in the GLIAC, are on the road next week at Saginaw Valley State University. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. against the Cardinals.