PAINESVILLE, OHIO - With its passing attack stymied by a sloppy track, the Lake Erie College defense rose to the occasion and posted its fourth straight dominating performance in a 24-7 victory over Kentucky Wesleyan College on Saturday (Oct. 31) in the home final at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium.
The Storm (7-3) won for the fourth straight time behind a unit that has not allowed double-digit points during the streak.
In fact, the Storm has outscored its last four foes 108-23. Lake Erie allowed just 267 yards - just 82 in the first half- and was just five minutes away from recording the first shutout in school history.
A months-worth of rain and five games in three weeks had taken its toll on the Britt Stadium turf, making it tough going for both teams as the Storm had a season low 323 total yards. Despite the tattered terrain, the game couldn't have started better offensively for Lake Erie.
The Storm drove 73 yards in seven plays on the opening possession with sophomore QB Sean Bedevelsky (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) scoring on a 27-yard scamper.
Their next drive ended in a punt, but the Storm upped its lead to 14-0 midway through the second period on a three-yard run by sophomore RB Kameron Alexander (Akron, Ohio/Buchtel). But after that, the Storm had a hard time getting things going.
A seven-play drive on the next series ended on a fourth-down interception and the following three series were all three-and-outs. Between Alexander's touchdown run and the start of the fourth quarter, Lake Erie gained just 47 yards on 16 plays. But while the offense kept Kentucky Wesleyan (1-8) in the game, the Storm defense did its best to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard.
The first four KWC drives ended in punts and the first two drives of the second half ended on downs, including one drive at the Lake Erie seven-yard line. It was still a 14-0 game heading into the fourth quarter, before the Storm offense started to click again.
They drove down inside the Panther 10 and had first-and-goal, but a pair of penalties twice took Dave Romeo (Eastlake, Ohio/Eastlake North) touchdowns off the board and resulted in Lake Erie settling for a 27-yard Sam Marcotte (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon) field goal.
And just as penalties thwarted a potential touchdown drive on offense, a big personal foul penalty by the Storm allowed the Panthers to finally get their offense in gear and break through on a four-yard run by Travis Walker with 5:16 to go.
The Storm recovered Kentucky Wesleyan's ensuing onside kick and a nine-play, 55-yard drive, capped by Bedevelsky's second touchdown run of the game, put the game out of reach with 1:40 to go.
The Panthers drove inside the Lake Erie 30 on their final drive, but an errant snap was recovered by freshman LB Taylor Leppla (Cambridge, Ohio/Cambridge) to wrap it up.
Bedevelsky completed just six-of-14 passes for 70 yards and an interception, but rushed for a game-high 99 yards on 14 carries and two TDs. He just missed reaching the 100-yard mark on the ground for the third straight week.
As a team, the Storm gained 253 yards on the ground. Senior RB Tony Howard (Garfield Heights, Ohio/Garfield Heights/Kent State) added 67 yards on 16 carries and Alexander chipped in with 42 yards on six attempts.
Romeo led the receiving corps with three grabs for 47 yards. Sophomores Kevin Chapman (Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson) and Gus Armbruster (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton) led the defense with 11 tackles and each had a tackle for a loss. Sophomore Andy Kurzinger (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon) had the game's only sack.
The Panthers were led by Vince Lolande, who completed 24-of-30 passes on the day, but for only 170 yards. Damarcus Ganaway caught a game-high nine passes for 88 yards. Walker ran for 48 yards on eight carries and a touchdown.
David James had a game-high 12 tackles to lead the Panther defense. Heath Smith made 10 stops and had an interception. Prior to the game, the Storm recognized its three seniors- Howard, punter Vince Hug (Eastlake, Ohio/Eastlake North) and center Nick Ellis (Thompson, Ohio/Ledgemont/Mt. Union) - who played their final home game.
Lake Erie will look for its fifth straight win when it closes out the season next Saturday, Nov. 7, at Wesley College. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.