The University of Findlay football team suffered a narrow 35-34 defeat at the hands of Saginaw Valley State University on Saturday, Sept. 21 at Donnell Stadium.
Turnovers and two blocked kicks doomed the Oilers chance of winning the ball game as they fell to 1-2 on the season with a 0-2 record in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).
The Cardinals took the opening possession of the game and marched right through the Oilers defense for a score to give them an early 7-0 lead with 11:04 left in the first quarter. The Oilers then showed their big play ability when sophomore running back Daiquone Ford gashed the Cardinals defense for a 46-yard touchdown scamper. The Oilers extra point attempt was blocked however, which proved to be costly in the end.
Trailing 7-6, senior linebacker Kenny Klatt forced a fumble on the ensuing possession, which was recovered by senior defensive back Ray Ballard in Cardinals territory. The Oilers then capitalized on the mistake and went up 13-6 when Ford burst through for a 16-yard touchdown run with 5:34 to play in the opening period.
After forcing a punt, the Oilers once again took possession of the ball and quickly scored, this time on a 24-yard pass from junior quarterback Verlon Reed to junior wide receiver Lloyd Henry. The score put Findlay up 20-7 at the conclusion of the first quarter.
If the first quarter belonged to the Oilers, the second period was definitely in favor of the visiting Cardinals.
Saginaw Valley State opened the quarter with a 62-yard touchdown pass from Jonathon Jennings to Andrew Dillon to make the score 20-14. The Oilers then drove the ball down the field on their next possession, but Reed threw an interception in the Cardinals end zone on third and goal to squash any chance of answering Saginaw's score.
The Cardinals would then retake the lead at 21-20 when Jennings found Mark Thrash for a 13-yard scoring pass. The Oilers would answer the score however on their next try as Ford broke through again for a 33-yard touchdown run with only 4:31 to play in the opening half.
Leading 27-21, the Oilers had the Cardinals needing ten yards on a fourth down play with only 1:05 showing on the clock. Thrash got behind the Oilers defense however and scored on a 27-yard pass from Jennings to give the Cardinals a 28-27 lead at the break.
The Oilers came out of the break and grinded out first down after first down. The only score of the period came at the 7:20 mark when Ford found the end zone from four yards out. Findlay, who went away from their fast-paced offense, which was showcased in the first half, controlled the ball for 12:42 in the period and entered the fourth quarter with a 34-28 advantage.
The Oilers continued to play their style in the fourth quarter and reached field goal range early in the period. The Oilers 35-yard field goal attempt to go up two scores was blocked however and the Cardinals proceeded to go 93 yards in seven plays for the final score of the game.
After a few failed possessions by both teams, the Oilers took the ball over on their own eight yard line with 2:24 to play in the game. They picked up three first downs in a row and appeared to be well on their way to having a chance to pull out some late game heroics. A pass over the middle from Reed to senior wide receiver Seth White however was broken up and intercepted by the Cardinals, ending the Oilers hope to win the game.
Findlay racked up 493 yards of total offense in the game and gave up 489 total yards to the Cardinals. They rushed for 228 yards and threw for 265 while the Cardinals rushed for 146 yards while adding 343 through the air.
Ford recorded a career-high 33 carries for a career-high 180 yards and four touchdowns while Reed completed 21-of-30 passing attempts for 265 yards. He also rushed for 34 yards in the loss.
Henry racked up ten catches for 135 yards and a score while White hauled in six passes for 75 yards.
Jennings completed 18-of-25 passing attempts for 343 yards and five touchdowns while Thrash and Jeff Janis had 139 and 124 receiving yards, respectively.
Senior linebacker Trevor Smith paced the defense with eight tackles while Ballard had seven.
The Oilers will look to snap their two-game losing streak next week when they host Michigan Technological University. Kickoff for the Homecoming game is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Donnell Stadium.