By Kevin Schrock
Too many mistakes: that was what cost the Oilers in a 40-28 loss to the Ashland Eagles on Saturday night in Ashland. After coming up victorious in their first three matchups in the 2015 campaign, the number 13 ranked Eagles proved to be too much for Findlay to handle.
After having an almost perfect first three games, quarterback transfer Rhys Gervais threw his first three interceptions on Saturday. He did complete 27 of his 48 pass attempts for 341 yards, but the interceptions were costly.
It looked like Ashland might put it away early when they held a 23-7 lead late in the first half driving the ball into Findlay territory.
“We knew we had to hold them to a field goal in that situation,” said Coach Rob Keys. “We did that and we felt like we still had a chance.”
With the defense coming up with the stop with 50 seconds left, the Oilers trailed 26-7. Somehow, Gervais led the team down the field in that time and found Anthony Federico in the end zone for an Oiler touchdown.
“That touchdown was huge for us,” added Keys. “We played pretty bad in the first half but we felt like we still had a good chance if we could get a stop to start the third.”
The defense did come up with the stop that Keys was looking for in the third quarter. The Oilers were able to strike first in the second half when Marcus Jones got a touchdown run from four-yards-out. After Tyler Bugeja knocked the extra point through it was a 26-21 game.
However, directly after the score Ashland went 71 yards in six plays to answer the touchdown with one of their own.
The Oilers still weren’t going away, though. On the first play of the fourth quarter Gervais threw his third touchdown of the game, this time to Jason Moore. Unfortunately for Findlay this was their last score of the game and the Eagles won 40-28.
“We just made too many mistakes,” said Keys. “We knew coming into this game that we would have to play nearly perfect to win and we didn’t do that. The three interceptions were big.”
The Oilers also failed to convert on all three of their fourth down conversions as well as cost themselves 55 yards in penalties.
Despite recent defensive struggles the coaching staff remains confident.
“The score may not be indicative of it but we’re improving,” said Keys. “I think our defense has improved every game and will continue to do so.”
The Oilers will have their work cut out for them next week when they take on their second straight ranked opponent. This one, however, may be one of the best in the country, according to Keys.
“If we could get this win against Ferris State at home it would be huge for our program,” said Keys. “They have the returning division two Heisman trophy winner and feel like they can win a national championship.”
Donnell Stadium will be playing host to the GLIAC matchup at 12 p.m. on Saturday between the 3-1 Oilers and 4-0 Bulldogs.