By Kevin Schrock
Findlay quarterback Rhys Gervais picked a good night to break The University of Findlay passing record because the Oilers needed every bit offense that he gave them.
After falling behind 34-21 in the first half, the Oilers put up 27 more points in the second, including a 39-yard touchdown reception from Dylan Blunk that would eventually prove to be the game winner, en route to a 48-44 victory over Tiffin in the home opener on Sept. 19.
As good as the Oilers offense was, the Dragons offense may have been even better. Quarterback Antonio Pipkin registered 578 yards of total offense which included 234-yards on the ground. The Dragons actually totaled almost 100 more yards than Findlay with the teams putting up 704 and 607 yards respectively.
After Pipkin scored on the first drive for Tiffin, Daiquone Ford ran in for a Findlay touchdown immediately after. Before five minutes had passed the score was already 7-7, however, that’s the way it would stay until the second quarter.
The Oilers took the lead on an incredible 25-yard touchdown grab by Jason Moore. It would be the first of Gervais’ five touchdown passes.
The Dragons answered the Oilers in a big way. Following the Moore touchdown the Dragons rattled three straight touchdowns to take a 27-14 lead.
Finally, with 1:24 minutes to go in the first half Anthony Federico hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass and it looked like the Oilers would go into the half only down six and getting the ball back at the start of the third.
The Dragons weren’t settling for that though. They went 64-yards in 1:03 minutes to get their fourth touchdown of the quarter.
The Oilers had allowed 34 points in both of their first two games and on Saturday they had allowed the exact same number of points in the first half. It was a poor start for the defense.
Still, Findlay kept grinding it out. Federico got another touchdown and after the defense held Tiffin to a field goal Tim Szabo grabbed another touchdown pass from Gervais to end the third quarter and just like that the Tiffin lead was down to 37-35.
“We want to be balanced on offense but we also want to take what the defense gives us,” said Findlay coach Rob Keys. “We have great receivers who are going to catch the ball and make plays after the catch, so if they load the box, we’re going to throw the ball.”
And throw the ball they did. After the two teams traded touchdowns one more time the Oilers found themselves down 44-41 with plenty of time left in the fourth. Gervais marched the team down the field and Blunk capped off his career day with a 39-yard reception from the quarterback that gave the Oilers a four point lead. Now the pressure fell squarely on the shoulders of the defense.
Things didn’t look good when the Dragons took the ball right down to the Findlay 14-yard line, but at that point the defense stepped up. After an incompletion, Brad Fenton tackled a Tiffin ball carrier for a four-yard loss. Pipkin then threw back-to-back incompletions turning the ball back over to Findlay.
“The crowd was great,” added Keys. “You did feel some of the electricity on some of those plays and that helped us. It was our home opener against a team that really wanted to beat us and I hope that kind of excitement continues.”
Tiffin got it back with 2:07 minutes to play and it came down to the defense one last time. The Dragons got the ball down to the Findlay 13-yard line facing fourth and one, the game essentially coming down to this play. It was Anthony Linnear, who just made the transition to defense this year, coming up with the big tackle stopping the run and ending the game.
“I tell you what if we were playing on national television these last few weeks our ratings would be through the roof,” said Keys. “It was a great win, it wasn’t pretty at times, and it was an offensive shoot out. If we want to be a great team we can’t be involved in an offensive shoot out every week. Our defense needs to get better and the thing is we will continue to work on it and we will get better.”
The Oilers will now make the trip to Ashland this Saturday. Ashland came into last week ranked 19 and defeated number 17 Ohio Dominican. It will be a tough road test for the Oilers but at 3-0 now they will look to continue their winning streak.