PAINESVILLE, OHIO – Coming off a disappointing homecoming result one week ago, the Lake Erie College football team quickly erased any lingering effects, jumping out to a 28-0 lead en route to a record-setting 48-21 win over Northeast Ohio and nonconference rival Notre Dame College Saturday afternoon (Oct. 12) at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium.
The Storm (2-4) snapped a two-game losing streak by rushing for a school, single-game record 406 yards and posting 687 yards of offense – another LEC single game mark – in its most dominating performance of the season. Sophomore Anthony Bilal (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) accounted for 235 of those rushing yards, the most ever by a player in a game for Lake Erie, and scored three touchdowns on 32 carries. His 42-yard dash early in the second quarter gave the Storm a four-touchdown lead.
Redshirt senior Brendan Gallagher (Aurora, Ohio/Aurora) got the scoring started with a 56-scamper down the near sideline on Lake Erie's opening drive. After the Storm defense forced its second straight punt, Bilal capped a 15-play, 65-yard drive with a three-yard run for the 14-0 lead.
Notre Dame's (3-3) offense finally gained positive momentum on the ensuing drive, getting the ball inside the Storm 20, by junior Stacy Woodford (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman) thwarted the drive by intercepting Ray Russ in the endzone.
Bilal ran for 41 yards to set up a 22-yard touchdown pass from Gallagher to junior Aaron Lindgren (Willoughby, Ohio/Willoughby South) to make the score 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Russ connected with Mitchel Shegos for a 13-yard touchdown with 5:19 remaining in the half, but the Storm scored twice in the final minute – a 60-yard pass from Gallagher to redshirt junior Tommy Jackson (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) and after an interception by redshirt sophomore DeVen Darby (Detroit, Mich./Farmington Hills Harrison), a one-yard run by Bilal – to take a commanding 42-7 lead into halftime.
Notre Dame scored twice in the third quarter, getting a one-yard run by Alec Torgeson and a four-yard pass from Russ to Ray J. Brown, but Lake Erie also got on the board with a 15-yard strike from Gallagher to redshirt sophomore Shane VanFleteren (Shelby, Mich./Utica) in between those two Falcon scores.
Lake Erie then removed any chance for drama by commanding the ball for 10:23 in the fourth quarter. Overall, the Storm held a five-minute edge in time of possession (32:21-27:09).
Bilal's 235-yard effort is his second career 200-yard game and surpasses the previous single-game school rushing mark of 214 set by Kameron Alexander against Tiffin University in 2010.
Gallagher completed 17-of-22 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns and was not intercepted. He also rushed for 80 yards and the long touchdown on 12 attempts. As a team, LEC had 406 yards on 64 carries, the first time the Storm has run for more than 400 yards in any game.
The 687 yards of total offense was 20 more than the previous school record of 667 set against Ohio Dominican University in 2009 and was the fourth time in six games Lake Erie has surpassed 600 yards this year.
Lindgren caught five passes for 103 yards, his second career 100-yard receiving game. VanFleteren also had five grabs for 44 yards and Jackson finished with four catches for 94 yards.
Redshirt sophomore Austin Hoeflich (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) led the defense with 10 total tackles while classmate Devante Sims (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar/West Liberty) and Woodford each had eight tackles. Woodford's interception was the fifth of his career, giving him the most in school history.
Notre Dame finished with 489 yards of offense, with Pedro Powell picking up 102 yards on the ground on 19 attempts. Russ completed 27-of-58 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. Mikhail Morgan (107 yards) and Jack Foy (73) caught seven passes each.
Cedric Hill led the Falcons' defense with 15 total tackles.
The Storm returns to Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play next week and will look for its second straight win on the road at Malone University. Kickoff at historic Fawcett Stadium at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12.