(PAINESVILLE, Ohio) – Lake Erie gave No. 17 Tiffin more than it bargained for in a 40-28 defeat at Jack Britt Memorial Stadium on a damp Saturday afternoon. The Storm (0-8, 0-6) had the unbeaten Dragons (8-0, 5-0) pinned in a corner, but the visitors pulled away late to deny the upset.
It was a day full of big plays for the Lake Erie offense that racked up 391 total yards which included a season-best 149 on the ground. A big chunk of those came late in the first quarter as Xavier Pulliam split the line and raced 65 yards to the house and answer Tiffin's touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
Another big play took place late in the second quarter as Javarian Smith found Desmond Turner for a 62-yard catch-and-run down to the Tiffin 8-yard line. Two plays later Smith rushed in from eight yards out with a dive at the goal line to help knot things back up at 14-14 with just 1:10 left in the first half.
Tiffin went on to build a 23-14 lead by way of a safety and touchdown run, but the Storm weren't about to go away quietly. This time the defense got in on the action as Marcellus Mitchell picked off a Nick Watson pass at midfield and returned it 32 yards to set up Lake Erie just outside the red zone. Four plays later facing 4th-and-two, Smith found Turner again, this time 15 yards out and diving out-of-bounds for another touchdown to make the score 23-21 with 14:09 to play.
However it was at that time the Dragons started to pull away. Tiffin scored on the next drive, returned an interception for a score after the kickoff, and kicked a field goal to go up 40-21. Lake Erie eventually responded with its longest drive of the day, 11-plays for 75 yards capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Smith, but ran out of time.
Smith had his most successful game of the season as he threw for 238 yards with a touchdown and rushed for 41 more with another pair of scores. Turner was his favorite target as the duo connected seven times for 140 yards and a score.
The defense gave Tiffin troubles throughout the day and brought the Dragons down in the backfield on seven plays. Elems Ulkwu led the charge with nine tackles and assisted on one of the aforementioned TFL's. Justin Growel totaled eight tackles with 1.5 tackles for a loss and hurried the quarterback three times.
Next week Lake Erie heads southwest to the Bluegrass State for its final non-conference game of the year at Thomas More. The Storm and the Saints will kick off at noon.