PAINESVILLE, Ohio—The Lake Erie College football had nearly 600 yards of total offense but was unable to come away with a victory in a shootout with Hillsdale College Saturday (Sept. 13), as the Chargers picked up the 48-41 win in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play.
The Chargers scored on their opening drive of the game with a 35 yard touchdown pass from Mark LaPrairie to John Haley. Lake Erie responded on the following possession, picking up five first downs while progressing the ball down the field. On a first-a-goal, Mitchel Hokavar (Perry, Ohio/Perry) found tight end Anthony Kukwa (Perry, Ohio/Perry/Ball State) for a 13-yard touchdown.
The Chargers worked the ball down to the Lake Erie six-yard line on their next drive but a Ty Law (Madison, Ohio/Madison) sack on third down forced Hillsdale to settle for a field goal.
The scoring ceased for almost a quarter as both defenses buckled down. Late in the second quarter, the Storm broke the defensive standstill. Hokavar found Tommy Jackson (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) on the first play of the drive for 51 yards. After a couple of rushing plays, Anthony Bilal (Painesville, Ohio/Painesville) punched the ball in from four yards out to give Storm a 14-10 advantage heading into the half.
Hillsdale opened the second half with a quick, 78 yard touchdown pass to Haley to regain the lead. However, the lead was short lived as the Storm answered on the ensuing drive, which was capped off by a six-yard touchdown run by Hokavar. The Storm failed to convert the extra point, but still had a 20-17 lead. The Chargers added a field goal on their next drive to tie the game and eventually took the lead on LaPrairie's third touchdown pass of the game late in the third quarter.
On the first drive of the fourth quarter, Bilal scored his second rushing touchdown of the game, this time from 27 yards out, to tie the game at 27. After the Storm defense forced a three-and-out, Bilal took off from fifty yards out to put the Storm in front, 34-27.
The back-and-forth quarter continued as Hillsdale answered Bilal's third rushing touchdown with a short touchdown run by Bennett Lewis to tie the game once again. Bilal continued to be a thorn in Hillsdale's side as he scored his fourth rushing touchdown of the game- this time from 62 yards away- on the Storm's next possesion.
The Chargers were able to answer Bilal's touchdown to tie the game late in the fourth. On the Storm's first play of the ensuing drive, the Chargers forced and recovered a fumble to gain possession at the Storm 28 yard line. The clock dwindled as the Chargers put together a six play, 28-yard drive which ended in a Lewis' second touchdown.
The Storm had one more chance but was unable to find the end zone with just 23 seconds left on the clock.
Bilal ended the game with 217 rushing yards on just 19 carries. It was the fourth 200-yard rushing game of his career and the second this season. It was also the second-highest single-game total in Storm history. Hokavar picked up 87 yards on the ground while Brandon Phenix (Toledo, Ohio/Maumee) gained 73 yards. In total, the Storm gained 365 yards on the ground.
Hokavar went 17-of-28 passing the ball for 230 yards and one touchdown. Jackson was Hokavar's top receiver, picking up 79 receiving yards on five catches. Shane Van Fleteren (Shelby, Mich./Utica) had three catches for 25 yards. Kukwa, Tyler Lindgren (Willoughby, Ohio/Willoughby South/Notre Dame) and Andrew Schickler (Doylestown, Ohio/Chippewa) had a pair of catches each.
Devante Sims (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar/West Liberty) and Maurice Hale (Coumbus, Ohio/Beechcroft) led the Storm defense with 12 tackles each. Nick Kirschner (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) and Eric Owens (Chicago, Ill./Leo Catholic) had nine tackles each while Stacy Woodford (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman) and Christian Cole (Waldorf, Md./McDonough) had eight. Kirschner and Law had a sack while Cole and Isaiah Wheeler (Copley, Ohio/Copley/Stark State) had a half sack each. Brandon Davis (Lorain, Ohio/Lorain) had an interception.
The Storm is back in GLIAC action next week when they host Walsh University.