PAINESVILLE, OHIO - Lake Erie College and Ohio Dominican University will likely see plenty of each other when they both join the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference next fall. And if Saturday (Oct. 3) is any indication, this rivalry is going to be wild.
The two teams combined for 101 points and 1,258 yards and almost featured another frantic fourth-quarter comeback by the Storm. But despite a record offensive day, Lake Erie came up just short in a 52-49 loss to Ohio Dominican University on Homecoming at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium.
Sophomore quarterback Sean Bedevelsky (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) threw for 337 yards and the Storm added another 330 on the ground for 667 total yards - all school single-game records. But Lake Erie could not overcome some early miscues which put the Storm in a 22-point hole midway through the third period.
After Ohio Dominican (3-2) opened the scoring on an 8-yard bomb from Billy Griffin to Justin Campbell, Lake Erie (3-3) responded with two straight scored to take a 14-7 lead.
Bedevelsky started the scoring with a 37-yard strike to sophomore Ryan Robinson (Maple Heights, Ohio/Maple Heights) and redshirt sophomore Demetrius Gray (Cleveland, Ohio/South) scored on a seven yard run.
But the Panthers struck back and scored three straight touchdowns, aided by a pair of Bedevelsky interceptions and a missed 37-yard field goal, to take a 28-14 lead into halftime.
Griffin accounted for all the second quarter scoring for Ohio Dominican, throwing passes of six and 36 yards to Brandon Robinson and Campbell, respectively, and scoring on a two-yard keeper.
The Storm opened the third quarter with a three-and-out and Mark Nichols busted through the defense for a 40-yard run and a 35-14 lead.
From there the game started to resemble a tennis match, with scores going back and forth at a seemingly rapid pace.
Gray scored on another seven-yard run, but Sam Marcotte's (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon) extra point bounced off the right upright, resulting in a 35-20 score with 9:52 left in the third.
Nichols scored on a two-yard run on the Panthers' next possession and Bedevelsky answered just a minute later with a picture perfect toss down the far sideline to sophomore Nick Yeager (Madison, Ohio/Madison).
Ohio Dominican drove right down the field and capped a 64-yard drive with a three-yard run by Griffin.
The Storm responded with a 53-yard drive of its own, getting an eight-yard touchdown run from senior Tony Howard (Garfield Heights, Ohio/Garfield Heights/Kent State) with nine seconds left in the period.
That score made it a 49-34 game heading into the fourth quarter. ODU drove down the field quickly to open the fourth, but stalled and had to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Chris Vortkamp with 13:34 left in the game. Down 18, Lake Erie went 64 yards in 10 plays, keyed by a 15-yard Howard run on fourth-and-one, to get within 52-41 on a five-yard run by Bedevelsky.
The teams then traded possessions before Lake Erie got the ball back with 2:14 to go. The Storm then went 83 yards in eight plays in just 62 seconds. A couple of runs by Bedevelsky, another big pass to Yeager and a late hit penalty on the Panthers set up a three-yard lob into the end zone to redshirt sophomore Brandon James (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor).
The Storm added the two-point conversion using a bit of trickery. Sophomore wing Dave Romeo (Eastlake, Ohio/Eastlake North) took the option pitch, rolled right and tossed a pass to junior Tracy Evans (Cleveland, Ohio/East Tech/Kentucky State) to get within three at 52-49 with just 1:12 to go. But Lake Erie was unable to recover the onside kick and Ohio Dominican was able to run out the clock and escape with the victory.
Bedevelsky completed 24-of-40 passes for 337 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also led Lake Erie with a career-high 85 yards rushing on nine carries with another score.
Griffin was just as good for the Panthers, hitting on 25-of-39 for 386 yards and three scores without an interception. He also had the two rushing scores. The Panthers posted 591 total yards in the win.
Campbell caught five passes for a game-high 164 yards and tight end Kyle Reichelderfer caught six passes for 80 yards. Howard finished with 80 yards on 12 carries and Gray had 68 yards on 11 attempts for the Storm.
The balanced 330-yard attack saw seven different players carry the ball. James, celebrating his 21st birthday Saturday, led Lake Erie with five receptions for 95 yards, including a season-long 51-yard grab.
Gray also caught five passes for 29 yards. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Gus Armbruster (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton) led the Storm with 14 total tackles, including two for losses. Classmates Steve Bensinger (Poland, Ohio/South Range) and David Dunne (Rocky River, Ohio/Rocky River) each finished with 10 tackles.
Nichols led the ODU rushing attack with 82 yards on 14 attempts. The Panthers did not turn the ball over in the game and converted 10-of-16 third downs.
Jeff White had a game-high 18 tackles, including 15 solo and Brian Babcock made 11 stops and had an interception.
Lake Erie will look to move back above .500 next week when it travels to the Apprentice School in Newport News, Va. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17.