PAINESVILLE, OHIO – The Lake Erie College football team went toe-to-toe for 45 minutes with perennial national power Grand Valley State University Saturday night (Oct. 15) but the visiting Lakers exploded for 28 points in the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter to turn a tight two-point game into a 61-31 win at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium.
The two teams went back and forth through the first three quarters, which each squad seemingly making big play after big play. The Storm (1-6, 0-6 GLIAC) made it a 33-31 game with 6:51 to go in the third on a 72-yard run by fifth-year senior wing back David Romeo (Eastlake, Ohio/Eastlake North). But that was the last big play for Lake Erie.
Grand Valley (4-3, 3-3 GLIAC) meanwhile came up with a few more in the fourth to distance themselves from the Storm and win their third straight game. The Lakers got a 49-yard touchdown run from Norman Shuford, a 41-yard pass from Heath Parling to Charles Johnson and a 49-yard interception return for six points by Erik Thompson in the first half of the fourth quarter to stun the home team.
Shuford's 49-yard romp capped a huge night for him. He led all players with 167 yards rushing on 14 carries, with two touchdowns, and caught three passes for 118 yards including a 58-yard touchdown catch. Hersey Jackson added 112 yards on 14 carries on the ground as part of the Lakers' 340-yard rushing attack.
After each team stalled on their first drive of the game, Lake Erie was able to moved out of the shadow of its own goal line with a nine-play, 75-yard drive which culminated in a 44-yard field goal by Sam Marcotte (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon), his second longest boot of the season.
Grand Valley responded immediately as Erik Thompson returned the ensuing kickoff 100-yards for a touchdown and 6-3 lead after the extra point was missed. Lake Erie quickly responded will a big play of its own as freshman wingback Aaron Lindgren (Willoughby, Ohio/Willoughby South) scored his second career touchdown on a 54-yard pitch and catch from senior quarterback Sean Bedevelsky (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick).
The Lakers regained the advantage on the first play of the second quarter as Jackson went 35-yard untouched into the end zone and extended that lead to 16-10 midway through the period on a 24-yard field goal. Lake Erie retook the lead after a 40-yard pitch to freshman Rodney Smith (Bartwo, Fla./Bartow) set up his own one-yard run.
Grand Valley came right back with a 23-yard field goal and the Storm tried to do the same just before the half but Marcotte's 25-yard attempt was blocked with the Lakers taking a 19-17 lead to halftime.
After Lake Erie went three-and-out to open the second half, the teams traded a pair of touchdowns each on the next four possessions. GVSU got two scores from Norman Shuford, via a nine-yard run and 58-yard pass. Romeo matched him stride-for-stride with a five-yard TD catch and then his 72-yard scoring scamper.
Lake Erie kept the momentum as senior safety Steve Bensinger (Poland, Ohio/South Range) picked off his third pass of the season. The Storm picked up two first downs to move into Laker territory but was forced to punt.
Shuford's 49-yard run put the Lakers up 40-3, but for the first time all night, Lake Erie's offense was unable to keep pace with a three-and-out and interception on its next two possessions. The Lakers capitalized both times with a four-yard TD run by Michael Ratay and the TD from Parling to Johnson.
The Storm's last offensive threat was thwarted when Thompson corralled a tip pass and weaved through traffic down the near sideline for the final score.
Despite a blustery night that saw a steady 20-plus mile-per-hour wind with gusts over 35 mph, Bedevelsky completed 22-of-38 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns but had his consecutive streak of passes without an interception ended at 151. He also rushed for 66 yards as the Storm totaled a season-high 482 yards on offense.
Romeo led the ground game for Lake Erie with 79 yards on four carries and Smith chipped in with 74 yards on 15 attempts. Senior Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) caught six passes for 82 yards and Lindgren had four grabs for 81.
The Lakers rolled up 547 yards on offense overall. Parling was just nine-of-20 passing, but totaled 207 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. Johnson caught three passes for 74 yards. Shuford totaled 285 all-purpose yards for Grand Valley.
Tonight's game was part of Lake Erie's "Taking Breast Cancer by Storm" awareness initiative. Lake Erie players wore a pink ribbon decal on their helmets along with pink themed accessories.
The Storm returns to action next Saturday with a 1 p.m. start against the University of Findlay at home. The game is the annual Youth Day and NCAA Take a Kid to the Game Day for the Storm.