COLUMBUS, OHIO – Three costly turnovers, including two in the opening minute of the second half, turned a close game into what appeared to be a runaway victory for host Ohio Dominican University over the Lake Erie College football team on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 29). However, the Storm mounted a late comeback attempt, but couldn't come up with an onside kick attempt in the final minute, allowing the Panthers to escape with a 38-30 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) win at Panther Field.
The three turnovers resulted in 21 points for the Panthers (5-4, 4-4 GLIAC) in the eight-point win.
The Storm (1-8, 0-8 GLIAC) trailed just 10-7 late in the first half and drove down to the Ohio Dominican 12-yard line, but an errant lateral on a throwback on third down was recovered by the Panthers.
Mike Noffsinger went 40 yards on the first play after the turnover and later in the drive caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jeremy Fudge to push the halftime lead to 17-7.
Lake Erie received the opening kickoff of the second half, but following a holding penalty on first down, Garrett Wilcox sacked senior quarterback Sean Bedevelsky (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) and forced a fumble that the Panthers recovered at the Storm six-yard line. Two plays later, Fudge ran it in from two yards out to make it 24-7 just 1:01 into the third quarter.
The Storm's miscues continued on the ensuing kickoff as junior Desmond Reed (Warren, Ohio/Warren G. Harding) couldn't hold on to the football on the return at the 34-yard line. The Panthers recovered and on their first play, Fudge went up top to Tyler Maddox for a 34-yard scoring strike and a 31-7 lead.
Bedevelsky, whose six-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave Lake Erie a 7-0 lead, hit senior receiver Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) for a three-yard touchdown to make it 31-14, but Fudge and Tyler Purcell connected for a 29-yard pass on fourth-and-14 to make the score 38-14.
The touchdown catch was the 20th of James's career. The two-sport all-league pick also went over 200 catches for his career (202). Both are Lake Erie records.
The Storm forced three Ohio Dominican punts in the opening period and led 7-0 after the first 15 minutes and outscored the Panthers 23-7 over the final 23 minutes, but in between it was all Panthers. ODU outscored LEC 31-0 from the start of the second quarter to the start of the third and proved to be the difference in the game.
Lake Erie got within two touchdowns midway through the fourth quarter after Bedevelsky scampered 34 yards and a two-point conversion made it 38-22. Bedevelsky then tossed a 32-yard strike to redshirt freshman Tommy Jackson (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) and then ran in the two-point conversion to get within eight with 54 seconds left. However, the onside kick attempt took a high bounce and deflected out of bounds, allowing the Panthers to take possession and run out the clock.
Bedevelsky finished with a season-high 92 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. He completed 29-of-47 passes for 279 yards and two TDs and an interception. James caught a game-high 11 passes on the day for 90 yards while Jackson had a career-high seven catches for 84 yards. For Bedevelsky, his 371 total yards put him over 10,000 for his career.
Lake Erie outgained ODU 447-365 overall, however the Storm committed four turnovers.
Fudge was 14-of-23 for 177 yards passing with three touchdown passes and Noffsinger rushed for 122 yards on 25 carries for the Panthers, who gave the ball away just one time. Noffsinger's big day pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
Justin Bell had a game-high 14 tackles for the Panthers. Cody Culbertson made 13 tackles and intercepted a pass for ODU, which won its second straight and third-in-five games overall.
The Storm is at the University of Tiffin next Saturday, Nov. 5, for its penultimate game and final road contest of the 2011 season. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. at Frost-Kalnow Stadium in Tiffin, Ohio.