PAINESVILLE, Ohio—The Lake Erie College football team lost a nail biter in overtime against Northern Michigan University, 38-35, to open the 2016 season Saturday (Sept. 3).
The Storm possessed the ball first in the overtime but was held to a field goal while the Wildcats punched it in from six yards out.
The Storm struck first in the game. After a pair of defensive stops, the Storm put together a three play, 36-yard drive after a Michael Muzic (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) 77-yard punt pinned the Wildcats on their one one-yard line. Freshman running back Desmon Turner (Cedar Bluff, Ala./Fort Payne) drove into the end zone on a two-yard run. However, the Storm failed the point after attempt.
With less than five minutes to play in the opening quarter, the Wildcats muffed a punt which was recovered by the Storm at the 32-yard line. Two plays later, Turner found the endzone once again, this time from 32-yards out. Sophomore Austin Baker (Clyde, Ohio/CLyde) was good on the extra point to increase the Storm lead to 13-0.
The Storm offense continued to run the ball well, finding the endzone for their third straight touchdown, Less than four minutes into the second quarter. This time senior quarterback John Banyasz (Columbia Station, Ohio/Columbia Station) scored from 26 yards out to cap off a five play, 74-yard drive.
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard two minutes later off a five-yard run to decrease the lead to 19-7.
The Storm answered on the ensuing drive. Baker converted a 32-yard field goal attempt after an eight play, 65-yard drive to increase the lead to 22-7.
After the Wildcats missed a field goal, the Storm drove down the field in the final minute of the half. After eight plays that covered 77 yards, Banyasz found the back of the end zone once again, this time from seven-yards out. After the Baker extra point, the Storm led 29-7. However, the Wildcats returned the ensuing kick-off 60 yards to the end zone to cut the lead to 29-14 at the half.
The Storm struck first in the second half off of Baker's second field goal of the day, this time from 20 yards out.
The Wildcats responded with a passing touchdown following a six play, 64-yard drive. Late in the half, the Wildcats tacked on a 28-yard field goal to bring the game within eight, 32-24 heading into the fourth.
The Storm defense halted a pair of fourth quarter drives by the Wildcats were unable to keep them out of the end zone in the final minute of regulation. Trailing by two, the Wildcats converted a two-point conversion to send the game into overtime.
The Storm had the first possession of the extra session. After losing yards one first and second down, Banyasz found sophomore Mitchel Tilley (Oxford, Mich./Oxford) on a deep 28-yard, fourth down heave for the first down. However, the Wildcats denied the endzone to the Storm as they settled for a 31-yard field goal by Baker.
After a 19-yard pass to start their possession, the Wildcats scored the game-winning touchdown on a six-yard run.
Turner led the Storm on the ground, rushing 22 times for a pair of touchdowns and 114 yards. Banyasz netted 108 yards on the ground on 19 attempts with his two scores. In the air, Banyasz completed 12 passes for 147 yards. Turner was his top target, hauling in three passes for 55 yards. Senior tight end Anthony Kukwa (Perry, Ohio/Perry/Ball State) also caught three passes for 19 yards.
Defensively, senior Zack Jude (Canal Winchester, Ohio/Bloom Carroll) led the Storm defense with 13 total tackles. Classmate Nick Szabados (Middletown, Ohio/Archbishop Moeller) also got in double digits with 10 tackles. Senior safety Maurice Hale (Columbus, Ohio/Beechcroft) broke up a pair of passes in addition to his five tackles.
Baker was good on all three of his field goals, converting from 20-, 30- and 31-yards. Muzic averaged 45.2 yards per punt on eight attempts, placing five of them inside of the 20.
The Storm is back in action next Saturday (Sept. 10) at third-ranked Grand Valley State University.