UNIVERSITY CENTER, MICH. – Host Saginaw Valley State University scored four times in the second quarter to break open a tie game en route to a 51-41 victory over the Lake Erie College football team Saturday night (Sept. 28) at Wickes Stadium.
Redshirt senior Brendan Gallagher (Aurora, Ohio/Aurora) threw for 410 yards and three touchdowns in the game as the Storm (1-3, 1-2 GLIAC) went over the 600-yard mark in total offense for the third time in four games this season (620). The Storm also set a single-game school record for the second time this season by running 110 plays in the game.
But all that offense wasn't quite enough from stopping the Cardinals (3-1, 3-0 GLIAC) from winning their third straight.
After a eight-yard touchdown run by junior Donnie Eatmon (Macedonia, Ohio/Nordonia/Fort Scott) tied the game at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter, Saginaw Valley State used several big plays to set up four short touchdown runs – including two by Norman Shuford – to take a 35-14 lead into halftime.
The Storm's (1-3, 1-2 GLIAC) lone second quarter score came on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Gallagher to redshirt freshman Zaide Whitley (Portsmouth, Ohio/Portsmouth) that got Lake Erie within 21-14. But the Cardinals added a Doug Nay four-yard run and a one-yard plunge from Shuford in the final minute to take the 21-point halftime lead.
Sophomore Anthony Bilal (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) opened the second-half scoring with a 17-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the third quarter. That play was set up by a 22-yard pass on a fake punt from junior Tanner Wells (Carrollton, Texas/Parish Episcopal) to classmate Andrew Schickler (Doylestown, Ohio/Doyelstown). However, Lake Erie's point after attempt was blocked and returned by Jon Bryant for the two-point conversion and a 37-20 lead.
Saginaw Valley got another big play through the air with a 44-yard touchdown strike from Jonathon Jennings to Jeff Janis on the first play following a Storm fumble. The second time Lake Erie lost the ball resulted in points for a second time and a 44-20 Cardinals' lead.
A 14-yard, fourth-down pass from Gallagher to redshirt junior Tommy Jackson (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) made up for an early touchdown connection between the two eliminated by a penalty and cut the lead to 44-26. After forcing Saginaw Valley to turn the ball over on downs, Gallagher connected again with Whitley – this time from 36-yards- on another fourth-down play for a score. Gallagher then hit redshirt senior Cole Gordon (Naples, Fla./Naples/Georgia Southern) on the two-point conversion and made it a 10-point game at 44-34 early in the fourth.
The two teams traded scores, a two-yard run by Jennings and an eight-yard spurt by Bilal, over the final nine minutes for the 51-41 final. In addition, the Storm drove down to the Saginaw Valley goalline where Gallagher attempted to score on a keeper but the ball was knocked away as he stretched for the plane of the goalline and was recovered by the Cardinals.
Gallagher set career highs by completing 48-of-53 passes for those 410 yards and three touchdowns. He set school, single-game records for completions and attempts while totaling the second most yards. Jackson caught a career-high 10 passes for 66 yards while Whitley – seeing his first extensive playing time – had eight catches for 128 yards and two scores.
Bilal rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns on 27 attempts, his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game. He also moved into sole possession of second place on the school's career rushing list with 1,504 career yards. Bilal now has 11 rushing touchdowns on the season.
Jennings was an efficient 12-of-16 passing for 291 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 74 yards and two TDs on 11 attempts. Shuford finished with a game-high 138 yards on 29 carries. Janis, who set a GLIAC receiving yards record in last year's win over the Storm, caught five balls for 120 yards. The Cardinals recorded 511 yards of total offense, out rushing the Storm 220-188.
Lake Erie was an impressive 14-of-25 (56%) on third down and also converted five-of-seven (71.4%) of their fourth-down tries.
Brian Johnson had a game-high 16 tackles for Saginaw Valley State while junior Stacy Woodford (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman) led the Storm with nine total tackles.
The Storm opens a two-game homestand next week by hosting defending GLIAC champion Ashland University on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m. That game is part of Homecoming/Alumni Weekend at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium.