Photo by Jim Garringer, Taylor University Media Relations Director
(UPLAND, Indiana) – Big plays helped Lake Erie blow by Taylor en route to a 42-20 victory at Turner Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Storm (3-4) scored four touchdowns on plays of 34 yards or longer on the day with three of them going for 74 yards or more to inundate the Trojans (2-4).
It didn't take long for the points to start rolling in as the Green and White scored on their first drive with a 34-yard pass from Javarian Smith (Pontiac, Michigan) to Josh Hufstetler (North Olmsted, Ohio). It was Hufstetler's team-best sixth touchdown reception of the year. The score capped a seven play, 71 yard drive that spanned just 2:21.
After a punt on their next possession, the Storm scored touchdowns on their next three drives. Smith ran it in from eight yards out to make it 14-0 in the first minute of the second quarter and followed with a 74 yard catch-and-run to Eric Zokouri less than four minutes later.
Taylor scored its only points of the first half with a 44 yard field goal afterwards, but left enough time on the clock for Lake Erie to drive down and score another touchdown, this time on a five yard run by Michael Swanson, with 29 seconds before halftime.
In the second half, the Storm offense stalled a little bit in the third quarter and allowed the Trojans to sneak back into the game with another field goal and a touchdown, but Jayshon Bester (Cleveland, Ohio) blew the game back open with a 91 yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 35-13 lead with 12:43 to go in the final quarter. It was the first since the 2015 season and third-longest in program history.
The final nail came on an 80 yard dime from Smith to Nate Dantley Jr. (Tampa, Florida) midway through the fourth to make the score 42-13.
Smith finished the game with a career-high 390 yards passing to break his own mark for seventh-best in a single game in program history. He was 19-of-28 with three touchdowns and an interception. Dantley was the top target with 104 yards. Zokouri also hit even on the century mark with six receptions.
Defensively Thomas Covington (Tampa, Florida) and Justin Growel (East Troy, Wisconsin) were ball hawks with 10 tackles each. Covington had two tackles for loss while Growel had 1.5 including quarterback sack.
"This was another hard-fought game by our guys that can help build momentum into the final stretch of our season," said Head Coach Reilly Murphy.
The Storm have now won three out of their last four, the first time they have done that since 2014. The three wins are also their most since they finished 4-7 that same year.
Next week they'll look for their fourth as they host Tiffin. Kickoff with the Dragons is set for 1 p.m. Coverage will be on the Great Midwest Digital Network.