BIG RAPIDS, MICH. – Another 600-yard performance and another record night for sophomore Anthony Bilal (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside), but for the second straight game the Lake Erie College football team fell just short in a shootout, dropping a wild 56-49 contest at Ferris State University Saturday night (Sept. 14) in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener for both teams at Top Taggart Field.
Bilal rushed 33 times for 169 yards and a school-single game record four touchdowns while redshirt senior quarterback Brendan Gallagher (Aurora, Ohio/Aurora) added 103 more yards on the ground and another 249 through the air as the Storm (0-2, 0-1 GLIAC) totaled 613 yards on a school-record 107 offensive plays.
But Lake Erie had a difficult time containing Ferris State (1-1, 1-0 GLIAC) quarterback Jason Vander Laan who accounted for 449 yards of total offense seven total touchdowns. He ran for a game-high 279 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries while adding three scores and 170 yards through the air.
The Bulldogs gained 571 yards on a night where the ball moved up and down the field at a rapid pace and the light bulbs on the scoreboard worked overtime. The Bulldogs outrushed the Storm 401-364, while LEC had the edge through the air 249-170. Lake Erie also had two turnovers while the Bulldogs gave it away just once.
After a big fourth-down stop on defense, the Storm offense marched 69 yards in nine plays for the game's first score, a four-yeard touchdown run by Bilal. The Bulldogs answered with a 23-yard pass from Jason Vander Laan to Dontae Ingraham to knot things up at 7-7.
Lake Erie settled for a 20-yard Kyle Galbraith (Monroe, Mich./Monroe/Oakland) field goal after a touchdown pass from Gallagher to Cole Gordon (Naples, Fla./Naples/Georgia Southern) was taken off the board after it was ruled that Gordon did not complete the catch as he was forced out of bounds and into the goalpost. The Storm defense then forced a three-and-out and pounced on Ferris punter Taylor Masiewicz following a muffed snap.
Bilal took the handoff on the first play following the turnover-on-downs and raced 10 yards into the end zone for a 17-7 lead.
Vander Laan tossed a 25-yard scoring strike to Kory Ringer early in the second quarter to cut the margin to three.
Later in the half, Lake Erie marched 91 yards in 15 plays, taking up 5:30 on the clock before Bilal plowed ahead for the final yard and his third touchdown of the half to again push the lead to ten at 24-14. The Bulldogs moved quickly, needing just 49 seconds to go 63 yards. Vander Laan hit Jake Lampman for nine yards just before the end of the half to make it 24-21 heading into intermission.
Vander Laan used his legs to put the Bulldogs in front, scoring on a one-yard run to put Ferris State in the lead 28-24 following a 14-play, 69-yard drive midway through the third quarter.
The Storm answered back with a 21-yard B.J. Rhodes (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio/Cuyahoga Falls) field goal, though the Storm had six shots from inside the Ferris State five-yard-line before settling for three points and a 28-27 game.
That goalline stand proved pivotal as Ingraham returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards to the Storm four-yard line. Vander Laan scooted into the end zone on the next play to make the score 34-27 and then appeared to break things open with a 63-yard run to make it 42-27 at the end of the third quarter.
The Storm responded with a 76-yard scoring drive, capped by a seven-yard pass from Gallagher to Aaron Lindgren (Willoughby, Ohio/Willoughby South) and a two-point conversion toss to Tommy Jackson (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) that brought the score within a touchdown at 42-35 with 12:23 remaining.
The two teams traded possessions, with the Bulldogs getting the ball back following a Gallgher interception on a deep ball attempt, before Vander Laan scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the game and made it 49-35.
Bilal's fourth TD, a three-yard run with 7:51 to go, again got Lake Erie within a touchdown. The Storm special teams then made a huge play as sophomore transfer Marquan Richardson (Dayton, Ohio/Wayne/Lindsey Wilson) blocked Austin Kantola's 22-yard field goal attempt and gave the Storm the ball back with just under five minutes left. But Gallagher's third-down pass deep down the sideline was intercepted by A.J. McEwen and that play led to a 17-yard run by Jake Lampman with 2:44 to play.
The Storm made one last run, racing down the field before Gallagher scored on a keeper with 47 seconds left for the 56-49 score. However, the Storm were unable to convert the onside kick attempt successfully and Ferris State ran out the clock.
Bilal's 33 carriers were six more than the previous high by a Lake Erie back and he and Gallagher became the first set of Storm teammates to run for over 100 yards in the same game.
Gallagher was 22-of-38 through the air for 249 yards and a touchdown. Jackson caught seven passes for 91 yards while Lindgren added five catches for 54 yards.
Lampman caught five passes for 58 yards and had those two touchdowns. In addition to his offensive output, Vander Laan also punted twice for 67 yards.
Devante Sims (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar/West Liberty) and Tanner Wells (Carrollton, Texas/Parish Episcopal) each had 11 tackles to lead Lake Erie while Kyle Herth (Harrison, Ohio/LaSalle) added 10 stops on defense.
Marvin Robinson and Terell Porter each had a game-high 15 tackles for Ferris State.
The Storm return home to host Wayne State University next Saturday, Sept. 14, in a GLIAC contest set for a 1:05 p.m. kickoff at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium.