BIG RAPIDS, Mich.— The Lake Erie College football team hung tough throughout the game but were unable to overcome the third-ranked Ferris State University Bulldogs in a shootout, falling 66-56 Saturday (Nov. 1) in Big Rapids, Michigan.
The Storm got out of the gates fast. On their second play from scrimmage, Mitchel Hokavar (Perry, Ohio/Perry) found Tyler Lindgren (Willoughby, Ohio/Willoughby South) down the sideline who took it for a 76-yard gain. A couple plays later, Hokavar found Demarco Rojas (Owings, Md./St. Mary's) across the middle for an 11-yard touchdown pass.
Ferris was quick to answer though, capping off a four play, 77-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run by Jamaal Jackson to tie the game at seven.
The Storm converted a big third-and-15 on their next drive when Hokavar found Shane Van Fleteren (Shleby, Mich./Utica) for the conversion. However, two plays later Hokavar's pass was tipped and intercepted by the Bulldogs. A couple plays later, Jason Vander Laan found Jamal Lockett down the sideline to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead.
On the Storm's next drive, they were forced to punt but the Bulldogs were called for roughing the punter, letting the Storm retain the ball but was unable to convert a fourth-and-six in Ferris State territory. The Bulldogs moved the ball down the field following the turnover on downs with Vander Laan rushing in from six yards out.
Lake Erie drove deep into Bulldog territory again, but the Storm was able to hold the Bulldogs offense at bay, forcing the punt. The Storm orchestrated a beautiful six play, 63-yard drive to follow up the defensive stop. On first-and-goal at the nine-yard line, Hokavar found Aaron Lindgren (Willoughby, Ohio/Willoughby South) for the touchdown toss.
The Bulldogs were once again able to provide the answer for the Storm score as Jackson picked up his second rushing touchdown of the game, this time from one-yard out.
Anthony Bilal (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) came alive on the ensuing drive. He picked up 51 yards on six carries, breaking his own single season rushing yard total in the process. On second-and-four from six yards out, Bilal scored his 23rd rushing touchdown of the season, bringing the game within seven points.
Ferris State threatened late in the first half deep in Storm territory but Stacy Woodford (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman) intercepted a pass in the end zone to keep the Bulldog lead at seven going into the break.
The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the second half to pull ahead by 21. Late in the third quarter, BIlal capped off a seven play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run- his second of the game.
The Bulldogs started the fourth quarter with a field goal to make the lead 45-28 but the Storm had the answer. Hokavar found Van Fleteren on their first play of the ensuing drive for an 85-yard touchdown. That play was the second longest passing play in Storm history.
The Storm defense came up big on their next drive, forcing a punt. The Storm started the next drive at their five yard line but benefited from a handful of Bulldog penalties. On a big fourth down deep in Ferris State territory, Bilal picked up a first down to keep the drive alive. A couple plays later, Hokavar found Van Fleteren down the middle from 13-yards out for his second touchdown of the quarter. However, the Bulldogs had the answers yet again. Vander Laan scored on a 49-yard run. After the Bulldogs stopped the Storm on fourth down, Vander Laan found Phil Annese for a three-yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 17.
The Storm did not bow out. They put together an 11 play, 72-yard drive which was capped off by a Hokavar 12-yard pass to Tyler Lindgren to bring the game within 10 once again.
Lake Erie attempted an onside kick after the score but Bulldogs recovered the ball as Vander Laan added a late rushing touchdown.
Hokavar found Aaron Lindgren with seconds left on the clock for a 13-yard touchdown pass but it was not enough, as the Storm fell 66-56.
Hokavar ended the game completing 28-of-44 passes for a season-high 392 yards and six touchdowns. His touchdown total tied Brendan Gallagher's single game passing touchdown record. His top target was Tyler Lindgren, who caught eight passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. Van Fleteren also topped 100 yards on the day with six catches for 135 yards and two scores. Aaron Lindgren caught four passes for 29 yards- two of which were touchdowns. Rojas also had a touchdown catch.
Bilal ended the game with a Lake Erie single game high of 34 carries for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Hokavar added 53 yards on the ground while Aaron Lindgren had 41. The Storm totaled 316 rushing yards on the day. Entering the game, the Bulldogs were allowing just 97.5 per game.
The Storm's 56 points and 708 yards of total offense were the most the Bulldogs have allowed all season.
Isaiah Wheeler (Copley, Ohio/Copley) had a game and season-high 14 tackles, including a sack. Tanner Wells (Carrollton, Texas/Parish Episcopal) added 13 tackles while Christian Cole (Waldorf, Md./McDonough) had 12. Maurice Hale (Columbus, Ohio/Beechcroft) added eight tackles including two for a loss. Kyle Herth (Harrison, Ohio/LaSalle) had eight tackles.
The Storm returns home for their final home game of the season next Saturday (Nov. 8) when they face Wayne State University on Senior Day.